I want to receive new articles by email
Air bubble traps plastic waste
By Michelle Robertson
A simple yet highly effective solution for trapping plastic pollution has been unveiled in Amsterdam, and it is powered by… bubbles! The Great Bubble Barrier has the potential to divert more than 80% of waste in the city’s canals before it reaches the North Sea. In addition, it does all of this without affecting marine life or recreational activities on the water. Here is how it works: A long perforated pipe runs diagonally for 60 metres across the bottom of the canal. Compressed air is pumped through the tube creating a wall of bubbles that catches the debris. The natural water current helps to push the waste to one side and it is then trapped in a rubbish platform on the side of the canal.
One of the inventors of this technology is Philip Ehrhorn, who is a German naval architect and oceanic engineer. He got the inspiration for the Bubble Barrier from studying the way a water treatment plant works. “If you can guide plastic to one side, then you can do it in a more directed way in a river.” His challenge was to make the barrier strong enough to catch almost all plastic while still not interfering with the canal or the marine life. Now the system is operational and it runs 24 hours a day in Amsterdam.