Habla Zig-Zag Kiln Technology
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CCAC - Bricks Matter to climate change and health




The brick industry of developing countries is clearly identified as significant contributor to short lived climate pollutants (SLCP's) especially in the form of black carbon and CO2 emissions.

Black carbon, or 'soot' is a major problem. It results from incomplete combustion in brick kilns where predominantly obsolete and antiquated technology is widely used.

Bull Trench KilnsWorldwide, clay brick production is estimated to be 1500 billion per annum. The majority of bricks produced in developing countries are handmade. This industry has a devastating environmental impact, resulting in irreparable harm to the environment and the lives of those working and living nearby.

Kiln replacement with low emission, fuel efficient and functional Habla Zig-Zag technology offers a 'win-win' opportunity to significantly reduce both black carbon (SLCP) and CO2. This can offer both local, regional and long term change improving health, workplace and agricultural outcomes for millions of poor brick workers and their families.

Today, there are over 300,000* of these kilns worldwide that currently:

  • Release over 890 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere every year;
  • Burn 375 million tonnes of fossil fuel every year, plus millions of tonnes of scavenged highly polluting fuel, e.g. tyres, wood, waste oil, cow dung, paper, liquid tar (mazoot) battery cases, etc.
  • Scavenged fuel generally burnt under cover of darkness;
  • Create hazardous working conditions for workers, including young children;
  • Use inefficient technology, often producing poor quality bricks.

Under increasingly strict environmental laws many developing countries have banned polluting kilns particularly the Bull's Trench Kiln and the Clamp Kiln. Despite bans many of these kilns continue to operate undeterred.


CO2 emissions

1. Air Transport Action Group : www.atag.org/facts-and-figures.html
2. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre: cdiac.esd.ornl.gov


Black carbon is described as a Short Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP), it results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, coal, wood and other biomass. Black carbon remains in the air for a matter of weeks, removal brings immediate measurable benefits. Whereas CO2 remains in the atmosphere for decades, as a long term problem both short and long term emissions can be addressed at the same time.

Emission reduction is ideally addressed on a dual basis, tackling both short term SLCPs and long term CO2.

Many of the sources of black carbon relate to human activity: brick kilns, transportation, shipping, agricultural burning, diesel engines, residential cooking and heating. Brick kilns are one of the largest stationary sources of black carbon in Asia.

Black carbon is an important component of airborne particulate matter, a deadly air pollutant. Globally, the WHO estimates that outdoor particulate matter is responsible for more than 865,000 premature deaths each year. Black Carbon is described as particularly dangerous, recent studies suggesting that it has an even greater effect on health than general particle emissions.

There are specific links between particulate emissions, heart attacks, cancer and respiratory illness. Black carbon has both global and regional impacts. It disturbs tropical rains, contributes to the melting of snow and ice in the Arctic as well as the glaciers of the Himalayas it contributes to atmospheric brown clouds and directly impacts on monsoonal rainfall patterns.

Black carbon severely affects both indoor and outdoor air quality in work places, homes, cities and villages. A 2011 World Bank report suggests that 40% of fine particulate air pollution in Dhaka, Bangladesh is attributable to brick making. Issues of agricultural stainability, diminished crop yields and food security are directly related to contamination from Black carbon particularly of wheat, rice and soya bean crops.

Black carbon affects the living standards, health and working conditions of the poor at kiln sites, and surrounding villages and valleys.


The widespread introduction of the Habla Zig-Zag Kiln technology implemented by progressive "roll-out" into developing countries has the potential to directly address significantly on climate change and global warming.

Habla Zig-Zag Kiln technology can offer a 'win-win' solution in tackling climate change by reducing CO2 emissions from the brick industry worldwide by over 400 million tones per annum and by providing a kiln with minimal black carbon emissions. Emissions are equal to that of the tunnel Kiln.


The kiln technologies currently employed in developing countries require anywhere between 20 and 150 workers per kiln. The workforce is often family or village based, the industry also employs child labour.

Bonded labour is associated with the brick industry in some countries.

In some settings this back-breaking and illegal work is carried out by children as young as eight years old. Working long days from sunrise to sunset, the best workers carry up to 1,500 bricks a day earning up to 15 rupees, or approximately US$0.50.

“ILO estimates 2.6 million children in Nepal work in hazardours jobs. It says 60,000 children work in the country's brick kilns and 32,000 in stone quarries." Hazards Magazine Oct-Dec 2009

Dangerous and unsafe working conditions mean that workers labour in the constantly present choking dust from the kiln and belching smoke from the chimneys. They often have to climb steep inclines, both walking on and carrying hot bricks. The kiln site is home for the majority of the workers, living in makeshift sub-standard accommodation. Black carbon 'soot' envelops working and living areas. Brick industry workers are amongst those 865,000 premature deaths each year from outdoor particulate matter as estimated by the World Health Organization.

From a humanitarian perspective the Habla Zig-Zag Kiln will significantly improve the work practices, working and living conditions of the poor within developing countries. It also offers all year round production capability and an improved overall economic outcome for the community.

There is no other affordable, proven, brick burning technology that will enable developing countries to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions by over 400 million tonnes per annum whilst mitigating black carbon emissions.

Significant benefits from acquiring carbon credits are possible.

*Figures are based on a very conservative 300,000 brick kilns. We estimate this is more accurately in excess of 500,000. India alone has over 100,000 kilns and the industry is expanding.

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