Francis Zoet, Anne Marieke Eveleens and Saskia Studer are three women with a passion for sailing and water. This is their story about The Great Bubble Barrier.

“For quite a few years we had been busy with sustainability issues when one evening we brainstormed about the plastic soup. On the river banks of the IJ in Amsterdam we had seen heaps of plastic that would travel to the Northsea without anything to stop it in it’s way. We found out that 80% of the plastic in the oceans originates from land and flows directly into the ocean via the rivers, channels, and canals.

That’s when we started thinking of a way to stop this plastic debris without obstructing ship traffic or fish migration. We came up with an idea: how about a barrier made of bubbles?

 Since then we’ve been developing a bubbly solution that can catch and remove plastics from rivers without obstructing fish or ships. In a nutshell our Great Bubble Barrier is a long tube placed on the riverbed with small holes through which air is pumped. This creates a vertical barrier of bubbles from the riverbed up to the surface. This barrier blocks plastic debris from floating downstream. By placing the barrier diagonally in the natural river flow we guide the waste to the riverbanks from where it is extracted.  This way we reach the entire width and depth of the river, without getting in the way. With our Bubble Barrier there is now a solution that helps to “close the plastic tap” so to speak, and significantly reduces the huge amount of plastic pollution in our oceans.”

Photo credit: The Great Bubble Barrier

You can see the principle of the barrier here

“Our barrier is based on existing technology: air curtains are regularly used to contain oil spills or contain sedimentation while dredging.  We’re excited to be re-purposing this technology and explore the development of a Bubble Barrier as a plastic catchment system.  In 2016 we won an environmental competition, co-organised by the Dutch Government, which was a key milestone for our project. Meanwhile we have received lots of positive response from people all over the world that also care about our environment.”

!!! STOP PRESS!! Results from our pilot are in!! 

“In November 2017, the first open water Bubble Barrier hit the water in Kampen on the IJssel River. We’re thrilled to say that our pilot barrier caught more than 80% of test material!  We are very pleased with the results and can’t wait to realize the Bubble Barrier’s potential in a permanent setting.

The pilot site in Kampen spanned nearly 200 meters and ran 3 weeks, during which

Photo credit: The Great Bubble Barrier

we tested the efficiency of the Bubble Barrier with various parameters and minimised energy consumption. This pilot was a collaborative effort, made possible with support from the Self Supporting River System (SSRS) team of Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares and BAM/van den Herik.

The Bubble Barrier has out-performed our expectations. In every weather condition 80% of the test material was captured. This is significantly more than without Bubble Barrier.

This proves that our bubble barrier actually works! It is a perfect addition to clean up initiatives of our oceans because until now, it is cleaning with an open plastic tap. In the long run, prevention is of course the best solution and clean up as close to the source as possible is the next best thing.”

Fun fact: Besides plastic, the bubble barrier also caught artificial teeth, half a pair of glasses and an umbrella!

You’re unstoppable! What’s next?

“Because plastic pollution affects us all, we’ve got a grand vision! With a successful pilot completed, we’ve now launched our crowdfunding campaign.

We’re aiming for €100,000. With this, we will build the first permanent bubble barrier, so it will be easier to show the effect and how it works to others, for further rollout around the world.

Several well-known organizations that want to reduce the plastic soup like we do, have joined forces and are offering many rewards for crowdfunding donors – like taking a trip through the Amsterdam canals to fish for plastic for yourself.”

This is where The Great Bubble Barrier needs your support! Visit www.thegreatbubblebarrier.com/en/ and donate to their crowdfunding to make the first bubble barrier possible.

 “We’re so excited about the year head. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response we receive on our social media from people all over the world. You can ke

ep updated on our success through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. By reaching as many people as possible, we can raise awareness about our solution and increase the possibility to install our bubble barrier in the most polluted rivers of the world.

The successful outcome of our pilot, the positive response we receive on our social media from people all over the world, together with the fact that we have a chance to do our part to fight this huge global environmental issue inspires us to keep going full speed ahead.”

To find out more about this project and their crowdfunding campaign, visit www.thegreatbubblebarrier.com/en/