Bubble Curtain

The Multiple Uses of Bubble Tubing®

Bubble Tubing®

The use of Bubble Tubing® immersed in various water bodies creates a curtain of micro-bubbles which, rising to the surface, expand and act as a natural barrier to manage multiple problems of water quality. Here are a few examples:

Mitigate noise pollution on the underwater ecosystem and the blast effect from demining, drilling, pile driving and seismic surveys:

As an underwater noise reduction system, bubble curtains use air to reduce underwater waves. The weighted Bubble Tubing® installed directly on the seabed attenuates the propagation of shock waves. It dampens the effects of underwater blast that can harm marine life when blasting or piling and drilling piles.

Pile driving on large construction sites produces considerable noise and high underwater acoustic pressures. Hydraulic pestles, which are used to hammer the piers of a dock or bridge into the seabed, are among the most common noise nuisances. These can be fatal to fish and harmful to marine mammals. In an effort to reduce underwater noise during construction, companies are increasingly using air bubble curtains. These bubble curtains provide an effective barrier against noise traveling through water, due to the difference in density between air and water.

Several combined lines of air bubble curtains can increase efficiency. A series of different Bubble Tubing® diameters placed around the piles will generate a denser curtain of bubbles. Bubble curtains are an effective measure to mitigate acoustic repercussion on marine mammals in NOAA’s new Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap.

Common Sources of Noise at High Sound Pressure Levels :

  • Underwater demining and blasting operations
  • Seismic surveys
  • Pile driving
  • Drilling for the installation of offshore wind farms
  • Oil prospecting operations (seismic)
  • Military or seismic sonars
  • Port and coastal developments

Protection of Marine Mammals from Noise Pollution Related to Noise and Continuous Vibrations From the Operation of Oil Platforms and Offshore Wind Farms.

Underwater noise mitigation technologies are needed to mitigate noise from marine construction, oil exploration, and day-to-day operations related to oil extraction and offshore wind farms.

In the ocean, whales and other marine mammals use gentle pulses of sound to communicate with each other. As we survey the oceans more and more, noise pollution from work related to exploration, development and construction, transmits powerful sound waves that can confuse, disorient and even injure these marine mammals.

Reducing underwater sounds has become a growing concern. One of the promising ways to reduce the speed and the intensity of sound to preserve the marine environment is air bubble curtains.

Surrounding active underwater operations with bubble walls alters the shape of sound waves and slows them down as they strike air bubbles. The bubbles effectively slow down the propagation of sound and therefore the shock wave.

Continuous or repeated banging sounds greater than 160 decibels have been shown to disrupt the behavior of marine mammals. Even though the constant noise from oil exploration and extraction is different from the jerky sound emitted by pile driving, the biggest problem for underwater life comes from the engines and machinery on board ships.

Air bubbles are then an effective way to reduce noise emitted by stationary sources simply by surrounding a platform or a ship with air bubbles.

Common Sources of Continuous Noise and Vibration at Sea:

  • Off-shore wind farm projects and vibration of the blades which are propagated in the ground by the central mast
  • Maritime activities
  • Operation of oil platforms
  • Exploitation of renewable marine energies (wind, tidal turbines, thermal energy from the seas, etc.)

Containment of Oil Spills in a Given Area

Another major concern with drilling and exploring for hydrocarbons is the risk of an oil spill and its impact on the environment. Oil spills during inland waterway transport are also a risk.

Bubble walls can act as a containment measure in the event of an oil spill, for example to protect oil rigs and other calm water facilities such as a marina or seaport.

The installation includes a pipe (the Bubble Tubing®), submerged on the seabed. By injecting compressed air in sufficient quantity and pressure, there is a water current effect that creates a flexible barrier, but difficult to penetrate by floating elements such as petroleum molecules. The hydrocarbons are therefore retained behind the bubble line. This prevents the expansion of the oil slick while decontamination methods are in place.

System for Avoiding and Redirecting Fish in Waterways

There is a growing demand for human cohabitation and the protection of marine life around the world. Submerged air bubble curtains form a linear barrier to control the movement of fish and marine organisms and direct them away from intakes, hydroelectric dams or contaminated areas.

In Denmark, RS Coast Care demonstrated during the summer of 2014 that the use of bubble curtains can be effective in protecting beaches, harbors and coastlines against algae, jellyfish and other floating debris.

Several hydroelectric and irrigation facilities must ensure that measures are in place so that salmon and other migrating fish can move safely in their environment. These companies are using Bubble Tubing® to integrate a bubble tube into their complete systems that have different avoidance or bypass components. The Bubble Tubing® creates a bubble curtain that deters fish from passing through it. By installing the Bubble Tubing® at a strategic location in a dam, water intake or other engineering facility, fish can be redirected to a specially designed staircase. Strobe lights and low frequency sounds can be built into the system to redirect fish to safe places or prevent them from entering intakes that are often fatal to them.

As seen in the video below, our Bubble Tubing® air bubble curtains are already in use to prevent jellyfish from entering and blocking pipes from sea water intakes in the UK .


Control of Movement and Direction of Floating Debris

Hotel chains and other tourist businesses living on the seashore are grappling with a growing problem of seaweed. Sargassum weed is being pushed onto the beaches by waves and sometimes accumulates to a thickness of three meters! The costs related to machinery and employees being assigned to the collection of these algae every day are staggering. The increasing presence of Sargassum in the sea is due to increased nutrients in the water, increased temperature, sea currents and winds. The tourism industry is affected by this problem in regions such as the island of Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe, Mexico and Martinique. Other types of seaweed are also found on the coasts of beaches in Europe and elsewhere throughout the world.
A lot of other debris, such as bottles, plastic bags and other plastics can be found floating on the surface of the water. Installing a bubble curtain can be a solution to containing floating debris and algae so that they can be picked up before they reach shore. It is also possible to install a bubble curtain to prevent floating debris from entering a channel. Strategically positioned off beaches, the bubble curtain creates a current that will push algae and debris back to a less sensitive area.

Currently, pilot projects are being explored to collect and reduce the emissions of floating wastes that emanate from rivers in urban areas and enter the oceans. The models clearly indicate the potential of these.  It remains to demonstrate on a large scale what can be done with the Bubble Tubing®.

Silt Retention Barrier and Turbidity Curtains

Bubble curtains also meet a need in constructional suspended sediment containment barrier applications. When working in a river, stream, or lake, marine construction and dredging companies often have to install silt retention barriers and turbidity curtains.

These barriers do not allow free passage to boats and work equipment. Adding a bubble curtain door allows this while retaining sediment and other suspended matter. In this case, a bubble curtain installed from the bottom will mitigate the migration of silt and other suspended sediment.

Our Bubble Tubing® has been shown to be very effective in blocking sediment during these applications. Also in this article,  research is underway to validate the effectiveness of bubble curtains in modifying water currents in the outer curves of riverbeds and rivers. Sediments tend to accumulate outside the curves as the velocity of the current decreases. Over time, a sandbank can develop across the width of the river making navigation impossible without dredging. By installing a bubble curtain in this outer curve, it creates sufficient current to prevent sediment build-up.

These are just a few applications from the many special case conversations our team has discussed with engineers, stakeholders, environmentalists and managers. If your idea or project is not there, contact us to discuss it!

Control of Toxic Microalgae and Jellyfish

Toxic microalgae are the source of great headaches for fish farmers all over the world. Toxic algae are mainly generated by nutrient inputs into the water especially when the water is hot. The phenomenon is increasingly problematic as the water in the oceans and the surrounding air warms.

Fish farms do business with us to create a bubble barrier around their fish farming installations in order to secure the perimeter of the cages. The upward movement of the bubbles creates a current preventing jellyfish, algae and other particles from entering the cages. The bubble diffusion system is activated only when necessary.

Who May Need to Create a Bubble Barrier?

The demand for bubble curtains is booming and environmental issues are very present. Who are our customers?

  • Port authorities
  • Shipbuilding companies
  • Acoustic attenuation specialists
  • Environmental firms
  • Hotel chains
  • Oil platform managers
  • Companies specializing in dredging
  • Marine construction companies
  • Hydroelectric dam managers
  • Companies specializing in fish fences
  • Naval bases
  • Environmental engineering firms
  • Cities that collect waste from canals and rivers
  • Floating waste recovery companies
  • Environmental groups and citizen associations

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