Unesco Green Citizens

The Great Bubble Barrier

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Project begin: 01/03/2017

Four young Dutch inventors have created a smart, natural barrier to intercept plastic from our rivers and raise awareness about plastic pollution.

Leading organisation: The Great Bubble Barrier
The country where the team is based: Netherlands
Theme: Education for Sustainable Development, Hydrology, Ocean
Sub-themes: Cities, Ocean education, Protecting marine ecosystems, Urban areas, Waste management, Water education, Water sanitation, Water science
Selection: 2020/2021
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Each year, up to 80% of the 8 million tons of plastic reaching the ocean first flow along our rivers and canals. Saskia Studer, Francis Zoet, Anne Marieke Eveleens and Philip Ehrhorn decided that our waterways should no longer be “plastic highways”. So, the quartet invented the Great Bubble Barrier ®, a solution that intercepts plastic while letting fish and vessels pass through. The idea is simple: pump air through a tube with holes installed on the riverbed. The wall of bubbles pushes plastic to the surface, ready to be collected. Increased oxygen levels also stimulate the river ecosystem and stop the growth of toxic blue algae.

Removing plastics from the canals of Amsterdam

In 2017, the start-up created a 10-m prototype and, later in the year, they successfully installed a 180-m pilot in the Ijssel River in the Netherlands. By November 2019, the first long-term Great Bubble Barrier was ready for action on one of Amsterdam’s many canals.

The Great Bubble Barrier®  also provides invaluable information for research into the impact of microplastics.

This simple device can be used in any river anywhere in the world to reduce plastic pollution. The team are looking for pioneers to take up the challenge with them.

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