Eco-friendly brick technique helps build a cleaner Bangladesh

20 Jun 2011

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have recently introduced energy efficient, smokeless brick-making technology to curb greenhouse gas emissions in Bangladesh.

The new device, known as the Hybrid Hoffman Kiln, was originally developed in Germany to replace the older, highly pollutant brick-making technology. It was later modified in China and remodeled to accommodate the specific needs of Bangladesh’s brick-making industry. As a result, brick-making technology in Bangladesh is now maximally efficient, eco-friendly and cost-effective.

In the last 15 years, Bangladesh has enjoyed consistent economic growth of five to six percent annually. Rapid urbanization in the country has created a booming construction industry and spurred the production of 8.6 billion bricks each year, with demand for the bricks rising at an annual rate of about 5.28 percent.

Yet, the brick-making industry remains largely unregulated. More than 90 percent of the country’s brick kilns use 150-year old energy intensive and highly polluting technology. This technology emits around 6 million tonnes of CO2 annually, making it one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

If Bangladesh maintains its current economic growth rate, continued use of this outdated brick-firing technology would raise the level of greenhouse gas emissions to 8.7 million tonnes by 2014.

Furthermore, 33 percent of the kilns in Bangladesh use firewood, which causes significant deforestation.

Fortunately, however, the new Hybrid Hoffman technology has the potential to save energy and resources and help build a cleaner Bangladesh.

A single Hoffman Kiln can produce 15 million bricks and reduce carbon emission by 5,000 tonnes per year. Replacing all existing kilns with this technology would considerably reduce total CO2 emissions throughout the country.

The secret to the Hybrid Hoffman Kiln’s success is its ability to completely burn most of the fuel that is mixed into the bricks during firing, and thereby drastically reduce energy use and production costs. It also dries the bricks by directing hot air into the tunnel from the annular kiln, which blocks greenhouse gas emission.

“With a construction industry that grows faster than its GDP, Bangladesh has no other option except making the brick-making technology efficient and eco-friendly,” said Khondker Rahman, who manages UNDP’s Improving Kiln Efficiency in the Brick Making Industry project.