Performance assessment of bubbles barriers for microplastic remediation

Endong Zhang, Alessandro Stocchino, Annalisa De Leo, James Kar Hei Fang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


We report the results of experiments designed to evaluate the performance of a bubble barrier device for microplastics collection in natural and artificial streams. Bubble barrier is an innovative device based on the principle that pumping air to produce a vertical curtain of small air bubbles along the depth of a waterway creates a sufficient current to direct floating and non-floating particle towards a catchment device. The bubble barrier has been designed and already tested in rivers. Despite its use, there is a lack of information on the fluid mechanical functioning and performance, i.e., its ability to catch the largest number of microplastic particles. The aim of the present study is to test different bubble barriers configurations (length of the bubble generator, alignment with the main current) in different hydraulic conditions. We used a laboratory channel to produce a scaled river flow and we performed velocity measurements, and particle tracking visualization to understand how the bubble curtain could influence the water flow. The catchment performance of the different barriers has been tested using two types of particles, lighter and heavier than water. The results show that the system performance is strongly linked to a combination of the bubble generator configuration and the main properties of the flow. This study is the first attempt to provide scientific data on the bubble barrier and future design strategies depending on its application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157027
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2022


  • Bubble barrier
  • Microplastic
  • Plastic remediation
  • Prevention technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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