The Great Bubble Barrier: How bubbles are keeping plastic out of the sea

By Lottie Limb  •  Updated: 27/09/2021

The power of tiny bubbles is being harnessed to remove plastic pollution from Europe’s rivers.

Dutch start-up The Great Bubble Barrier has developed an ingenious way of intercepting rubbish, by creating a curtain of bubbles that pushes plastics to the side of the waterway.

In a pilot test conducted in the IJssel, the bubbles caught 86 per cent of material. Promising news for the long term barrier installed in an Amsterdam canal in 2019, which is stopping trash from reaching the North Sea.

Now the team is taking their technology outside of the Netherlands for the first time, with a new Bubble Barrier to launch in Portugal in summer 2022.

An exact location for the new project – which was announced on World Clean Up Day last Sunday – is yet to be revealed, but it will arrive in the region of Porto.

“There is an urgent need for measures that stop plastic from flowing into our oceans. With the installation of a Bubble Barrier in the Porto region, we will be able to tackle the problem close to the source” explains co-founder of The Great Bubble Barrier and Chief Technical Officer Philip Ehrhorn.

“At the same time, we aim to build awareness among both residents and visitors about the issue of plastic pollution, making the impact of the project bigger than just regional.”

According to a recent study in the UK journal Nature, the Porto region is home to two of the rivers with the highest levels of plastic pollution in Portugal.


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