A barrier which blocks plastic waste in waterways from reaching the sea is being trialed in an Amsterdam canal.
The Great Bubble Barrier, the world’s first rubbish barrier made entirely from bubbles, features a long perforated tube that runs diagonally across the bottom of the waterway. Compressed air is pumped through the tube. It rises and pushes rubbish to one side, where it is trapped in a small platform.
A full-scale pilot of 200m in the river IJssel in November 2017 showed the barrier can divert 86 percent of floating debris.
Great Bubble Barrier
The Great Bubble Barrier, a young Dutch start-up, was founded in early 2017 by Anne Marieke Eveleens, Saskia Studer, and Francis Zoet. They later joined forces with naval architect and ocean engineer, Philip Ehrhorn who had been testing the same concept in Berlin.
Speaking to The Guardian about the invention, Philip Ehrhorn said: “More than two-thirds of plastics in the ocean comes out of rivers and canals – so if you have to intercept it, why not do it in the rivers?
“You can’t put a physical barrier in a canal: it has to be open for wildlife and recreation…If you can guide plastic to the side, can’t you do it in a more directed way and on purpose in a river?”
The Amsterdam pilot is set to run for three years – operating 24 hours a day. All waste collected by the Bubble Barrier will be analyzed by plastics action group Schone Rivieren.