The Great Bubble Barrier

Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic pollution ends up in our oceans of which 60-80% originates from rivers. Plastic does not biodegrade and causes great harm to the environment. Marine life gets entangled in plastics, vessels get damaged and microplastics form a health hazard for the smallest to the largest organisms.

The Great Bubble Barrier has developed a technology which can intercept plastic pollution in rivers before it reaches the ocean: the Bubble Barrier. By creating a curtain of air bubbles, plastic is prevented from flowing downstream. The Bubble Barrier is a unique sustainable system: is fish-friendly, does not hinder ship traffic and covers the entire width and depth of the waterway.



Bubble curtain

The bubble curtain is created by pumping air through a perforated tube on the bottom of the waterway. This bubble curtain creates an upward current which directs the plastics to the surface. By placing the Bubble Barrier diagonally in the river, it makes use of the natural flow of the river. This way, the plastic waste will be directed to the side and into a catchment system at the riverbank, where it will be retained and removed from the water.

This innovative concept is based on existing technology. It increases oxygen in the water and does not require changes in infrastructure or policies. It is easily scalable.

Tested and approved

The concept has been extensively tested in collaboration with the Dutch government public works agency ‘Rijkswaterstaat’, Deltares and BAM / Van den Herik. After testing the concept in the water laboratory of Deltares in May 2017, a three-week trial was held in the IJssel river in November. During this test period, the European research team proved that the 180-metre-long Bubble Barrier works under all conditions. It showed that the Bubble Barrier was capable of catching 86% of the test material.

In November 2019 The Great Bubble Barrier implemented the first long-term Bubble Barrier in the world in Amsterdam in collaboration with Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht and gemeente Amsterdam. You can visit this Bubble Barrier at the location at Westerdok. The Great Bubble Barrier is constantly working on new projects. The ambition is to implement this solution in Europe and Asia.