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Oil-free air used for the Great Bubble Barrier in Dutch waterway

When we think of bubble curtains, large offshore applications are usually the first thing that come to mind. However, the possibilities are not limited to the vastness of our oceans. The Great Bubble Barrier uses the same concept, but scales it down to local waterways, offering a smart solution to plastic pollution.

Plastic not so fantastic

Plastic waste is not something we only find on the other side of the world, or in the ocean. It is present in local waterways as well, where it brings great harm to the environment and human beings. Aquatic animals are tangled in plastic, microplastics pose a health risk from the smallest to the largest organisms and ships suffer damages. Different institutions worldwide, such as the United Nations, Ellen McArthur Foundation and the World Health Organization, recognize this increasing problem.

The Great Bubble Barrier has designed a solution that intercepts plastics in rivers and canals before it reaches the ocean.

For a large part, the way The Great Bubble Barrier uses the Bubble Barrier, is similar to what is used for offshore projects. However, there are a few differences. For example, the barrier is placed diagonally in the waterway, allowing it to use the natural current to guide the plastic to the catchment system at the riverside. Both ships and fishes can pass the Bubble Barrier, but plastic will be stopped. Besides the capture of debris, the Bubble Barrier has other positive side effects. Oxygen levels within the water increase by a Bubble Barrier, which stimulates the ecosystem and stops the growth of toxic blue algae.

Bubble it up

For the creation of the bubble curtain, Atlas Copco Rental installed an electric driven oil-free air compressor. The advantages of this energy-efficient solution are a fast start-up and low noise during operation.

The role of oil-free is vital for environmental reasons as the air is in direct contact with the water. There is no point in risking environmental oil pollution. Even the smallest quantities could have lasting, harmful effects on local marine life.

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