The Great Bubble Barrier’s mission is to clear rivers and canals of plastic and thereby prevent pollution in the ocean to protect the global ecosystem. Pilots have shown that our technology removes plastic larger than 1 mm from flowing rivers and canals.
One of our following research questions is whether this Bubble Barrier is also suitable for intercepting microplastics.
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To answer this question, PWN (a drinking water company); Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier (HHNK – a water management board); and KWR ( a water research institute) will cooperate with us in a research consortium. This consortium is starting a study to prevent microplastics from purified waste water from flowing into surface water.
The parties are investigating the amount of microplastics in the treated waste water (effluent); the effect of a bubble screen (Bubble Barrier) on microplastics with a size of 0.5 mm to 0.02 mm and the improvement and standardization of the measuring method for microplastics. With this, the consortium is taking a step towards clarifying the nature of the cause and reducing the occurrence of microplastics in surface water as they can pose a threat to people and the environment.
Based on this research, we will further investigate the possibilities and limits of the Bubble Barrier in order to increase our impact.
This Bubble Barrier will give us insights into the effect of the Bubble Barrier on microplastics in water. To measure this effect, three locations will be measured by KWR following the TRAMP methodology, every second week. This Bubble Barrier in Wervershoof has a length of 16 meters.
Monitoring point 1 – Baseline
This location will give insights in the amount of microplastics within the effluent; after the wastewater has been treated.
Monitoring point 2 – The effect
This location will give insights in the presence of microplastics just before the Bubble Barrier. We expect a higher concentration of microplastics, because the Bubble Barrier creates a circular current on the surface of the effluent.
Monitoring point 3 – The result
This location will give insights in the presence of microplastics just after the Bubble Barrier. We expect a lower concentration of microplastics compared to monitoring point 2.
During this investigation, we will only focus on our current research questions. Depending on the results, we will later focus on the removal of microplastics in effluent canals.
It is expected that the conclusions of the research will be shared halfway 2020. The first findings have been published in September 2019.
Due to the social importance of this research, it is co-financed by the TKI Water Technology program of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and by drinking water company PWN.
“PWN makes healthy drinking water for the people of Noord-Holland. Our source is the lake IJsselmeer, where waste water ends up after purification. We want to cherish and protect this source and also keep the costs of drinking water as low as possible. The purification process should not be more complicated than it already is
– Joke Cuperus, CEO, PWN