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The Clay Brick Industry:

Improvement of Resource Efficiency and Environmental Performance

By Burt Hamner" <bhamner@cleanerproduction.com>

The clay brick production industry is a major source of air pollution in developing countries.  The major issues in environmental improvement involve improving the combustion efficiency of existing kilns, and upgrading kilns to newer and more efficient process designs.  Most of the cleaner production effort has been in India, where a number of studies and improvement projects have been conducted.  The amount of information on the web about CP in this industry is relatively low.  Process technology upgrades are usually capital intensive in this industry.  Combustion efficiency improvements can be achieved with relatively low costs in many kilns.  Promoting cleaner production in this industry requires extensive understanding of and work with the brickmaking community because there are many social and economic factors affecting potential technology changes.

The table below lists several low-cost ways to reduce waste and pollution in brick making.  Company environmental programs should demonstrate that these options have been considered thoroughly. Direct links to online guides for cleaner production in clay brick making follow the table.

Solutions to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Waste in Clay Brick Production  

Stack fuel around bricks to facilitate preheating

Solid fuel is mixed with the bricks throughout the kiln, either as sawdust mixed into the brick mass or as fuel channels in different levels of the kiln. By doing this, a combustion zone can be generated in the kiln that gradually moves upwards, using the residual heat in the lower, already burnt bricks for preheating of combustion air. The residual heat in the flue gasses is used for drying and preheating of the higher levels of crude bricks.

Improve brick drying before firing

Extended drying time reduces fuel requirements.  Even drying throughout brick stacks reduces defective firing of bricks.

Improve air flow control

Stopping all air leaks and controlling the kiln opening size allows better control of air flow speed and direction to improve combustion

Switch to propane or natural gas fuel

If available and competitively priced, these fuels have significantly less emissions and can increase production quality and speed.

New kiln design

Vertical shaft brick kilns allow increased production rates and significantly decreased emissions through improved combustion air flow efficiency.  Several other kiln designs have also proven to be relatively low-cost and much more efficient than traditional ovens or kilns.

 

LINKS 

Understanding the Small-Scale Brick-Making Enterprise is a good introduction to this topic.

http://idh.vita.org/pubs/docs/book18.html

Here is a very nice description of clay brick manufacturing, with photos

http://www.glengerybrick.com/company/manufacturing/manufacturing.html

These are technical notes on brick making: 

- Basics of brick making 1

www.skat.ch/ab/publ/online/products/clay_bricks_1.htm

- Basics of brick making 2

www.fbe.unsw.edu.au/Learning/material-notes/mat12.htm

- Technical notes on brick construction

http://www.brickinfo.org/BIA/technotes/t9.htm

The most extensive technical and policy discussion of pollution prevention in brickmaking in developing countries is from Resources for the Future, which studied Mexican brick industries.

http://www.rff.org/proj_summaries/files/blackman_brickmakers.htm

Profile of the Stone, Clay, Glass and Concrete Industry is the EPA Sector Notebook for these industries, with a broad overview of environmental issues but relatively little pollution prevention advice.

http://es.epa.gov/oeca/sector/sectornote/pdf/stclglsn.pdf

Los Alamos project on cleaner production in brick making along the Mexican border.

http://www.dp.doe.gov/dp45/p2/advisor/1995/P2MAY9~1.htm#Los%20Alamos%20fired%20up%20over%20border

Another page on this. 

http://www-emtd.lanl.gov/TD/special/Brick.html

Improved Brick Kilns in Bolivia is a research report.

http://www.sei.se/red/red9508d.html

Fired Clay Bricks - A New Technique for Production and Design of a clean burning brick kiln are reports on improved technologies.

http://www.idrc.ca/Nayudamma/brique_56e.html

Vertical shaft brick kilns are described in this brochure which gives many contacts.

http://www.devalt.org/da/tsb/vsbk.pdf

Brick-making and energy use is a report from India with some suggestions for improvements.

http://www.climatechangeindia.com/climatechange/brick.htm

Energy study of Indian brick kilns, a strategy for the brick sector, and a conference on brick-making pollution are from this India site.

http://www.teriin.org/case/brick.htm

Pollution control in brick kilns is from an Indian brick making engineering firm.

http://www.priyabrick.com/pollctrl.htm

Brinkinfo.Com is an interesting site on the brick industry in the USA with many ideas for marketing and product use.  It is produced by the Brick Industry Association.

http://www.brickinfo.org/

Potters.Org is a discussion forum for clay artists and manufacturers with active bulletin boards.

http://www.potters.org/categories.htm

 

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