Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
The Great Bubble Barrier
How does the Bubble Barrier work?
The idea is simple. A tube with holes is placed on the bottom of a river. Pumping air through the tube creates a bubble curtain. The air bubbles force plastics in the water to the surface, making them accessible for removal. This concept is used in the oil industry, the dredging industry and in the Dutch lock system. By placing the bubble barrier diagonally to the flow of a river, the power of the river forces debris to the banks of the river, where it can be easily removed from the water.
Is there a Bubble Barrier in use?
At the moment, there are Bubble Barriers in use, you can find the Bubble Barriers that have been implemented on our timeline.
How is the plastic collected?
We are using a catchment system which is designed by TGBB to work in line with the Bubble Barrier. The catchment system is always adapted to work with the existing infrastructure of each project. However, the combination of our Bubble Barrier with other catchment systems is also possible.
Does the Bubble Barrier allow fish to pass?
Most species will just pass through the Bubble Barrier or take a short time before they pass it. We nevertheless implement a fish passage in each design, for example under the catchment system. We will always carefully consider the ecological impact of each Bubble Barrier.
Whales use bubbles to hunt fish. Does the Bubble Barrier have the same effect on fish?
Humpback whales use the so called “bubble-net feeding” method to concentrate herring near the water surface. The whales use air bubbles to blow a ring around the school of fish before they jointly breach the surface and feed on the fish. Research suggests that the main driver behind the concentration of the fish is the sound which the whales make when they blow the bubble ring. The bubbles will create a “wall of sound” which scares the fish away from it rather than being afraid of the bubbles themselves. Our Bubble Barrier is silent, thin and doesn’t come as a surprise.
Could the Bubble Barrier also be placed in the sea?
We want to prevent plastic from ever reaching the sea or oceans. Therefore, our Bubble Barrier system is designed for rivers and canals.
Can I also use the Bubble Barrier for something other than plastic capture?
Bubble curtains can also be used for other applications than the capture of plastic. However, our Bubble Barrier system focuses on the capture of plastic only. For all other applications with bubble curtains, we would like to put you in touch with one of our partners.
Until what depth can the Bubble Barrier be placed?
Until now we have implemented the tube of the bubble curtain of the Bubble Barrier to a depth of 7 meters. It can be investigated whether the Bubble Barrier can be placed even deeper.
How much plastic and which size of debris does a Bubble Barrier remove?
During the tests in the IJssel we looked at how these results translate in a river. We tested our Bubble Barrier at the IJssel in various weather conditions and came to the conclusion that it caught 86% of the (floating) test material.
We can catch plastics with a size of 1mm and bigger, like granulate and styrofoam. In the pilot at Wervershoof, we are investigating whether we can catch microplastics measuring 20 micrometers up to 500 micrometers (0,5 millimeters).
Is it possible to remove microplastics from water by using a Bubble Barrier?
Are all types of plastic caught by the Bubble Barrier?
During the tests at Deltares, different types of plastics were tested: from packages, water bottles, popped balloons, plastic bags, bottle caps and plastic grit. Most floating plastics and underwater plastics can be caught. Unfortunately, plastic that has sunk and rolls slowly over the bottom of a river is unlikely to be caught.
What is a Bubble Barrier made of?
The Bubble Barrier is tube, made of PVC, with holes in it. This tube is reinforced with a steel cable and is attached to the bottom at some points with steel or (recycled) concrete blocks.
Plastic Extraction & Use
What happens to the collected trash?
How much energy does a Bubble Barrier use?
Strategy & Team
What is the mission of The Great Bubble Barrier?
What is the vision of The Great Bubble Barrier?
Are there career opportunities at The Great Bubble Barrier?
We are proud of our growth, mentality and the impact that we can achieve. To get the rivers free from plastics again, we’re always in need of talented and motivated pioneers who can support this mission and want to change the world with their own hands. Are you already sparkling? View all opportunities and openings now. View all job openings here >>