Habitat Observatory

    Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln – Technology for a Greener Tomorrow
  Brick production has been recognised as a highly energy intensive and polluting industry owing to the prevalence of obsolete production technologies. The main resource used in production is coal. With an average consumption of 18 tonnes of coal per 100,000 bricks, the brick sector consumes about 24 million tonnes of coal per year which is about 8% of the total coal consumption in India. This makes the brick sector the third largest consumer of coal after the power and steel sector. The burning of coal contributes to significant air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions which leads to global warming. It also causes many health problems, especially related to respiratory health.

To solve these problems, an economically viable alternative means of producing quality bricks was developed in China in the 1970s. Known as the Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln (VSBK) or Eco Kiln, the VSBK is one of the most energy efficient and environment friendly techniques for burnt clay brick production. This technology was introduced in India in 1996.

In a VSBK, rectangular arrays of dried green bricks and crushed, pre-sized fuel (coal) are carefully stacked into batches and loaded on the top platform. These then move slowly down to the central firing zone. The fresh air coming from below cools the fired bricks before they are unloaded. The kiln works as a counter-current heat exchanger, with heat transfer taking place between the upward moving air (continuous flow) and downward moving bricks (intermittent movement). The maximum temperature is achieved in the middle of the shaft where fire is maintained. At intervals of 2 to 3 hours, a batch of fired bricks is unloaded at the bottom.

Use of carbonaceous waste materials in green bricks is an integral part of the technology. A benchmark operation of VSBK can save more than 40% energy. Environmental emissions are also reduced by more than 80% compared to traditional firing technologies. The VSBK technology is firmly established in India with more than 100 operational kilns. The technology has also been successfully transferred to Nepal, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and South Africa

Success Story: Siyaram Rathore, Janjgir-Champa district, Chhattisgarh, India

Siyaram Rathore of Janjir-Champa district, Chhattisgarh, India had always dreamt of running his own business since his childhood days. His dream came true when he bought a small manual stone crushing unit after selling his newly wed wife’s jewellery. Thus started an enviable history of success. After modernisation of the stone crusher, he invested in the fuel saving VSBK technology which consolidated his position in the market due to better quality and increased margins. He has future plans of expanding his two shaft VSBK unit into a four shaft one to produce approximately 40 lakhs of fired bricks in a single season.

Siyaram Rathore has benefitted immensely from his investment in the Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln (VSBK) during the first year of brick production itself. His plant started trial production in March 2004 and full-fledged production from November 2004. It is a working example of technological excellence. Siyaram Rathore, is highly excited by the coal savings of his plant. During the past brick season, his plant’s average coal consumption was only one tonne per lakh of fired bricks. His traditional Movable Chimney BTK unit has been constantly consuming around 18 tons per lakh of fired bricks. His annual savings this year were to the tune of 300 tonnes of coal for production of 18 lakh bricks. With the coal available from the market now touching INR 2400 per tonne, the saving is huge with no compromise on quality. His co-operation, hard work, dedication and above all complete faith in VSBK technology and the implementation team has resulted in a wonderful cost saving solution.

Mr. Rathore says “In my life, I have always been inspired to do things in a different manner. My stone crusher unit was the first one in Chhattisgarh to employ pollution control measures. VSBK technology gives me freedom from environment hassles and has improved my profitability and quality.”

The technology is supplied by TARA Machines and Tech Services Pvt. Ltd. (

For more details please log on or

    A disaster resilient habitat development approach based on community participation in Bangladesh
  In 2009, cyclone Aila created mass destruction in the southern region of Bangladesh. Houses, road networks and schools were severely damaged by the cyclone. A UNDP funded project was implemented in Shatkhira – one of the worst affected areas, with the aim of building disaster resilient houses using community resources and technical skills from the professionals. Implemented by BRAC (a Bangladeshi NGO), technical support was provided by the Department of Architecture, BRAC University. Disaster resilient habitat development is an integrated and comprehensive approach focusing on issues such as housing, livelihood, asset accumulation and capacity building. It aims to provide a secure and dignified living for the poor to avoid displacement and rehabilitation in the future.

This habitat project used tools of participation and trust to ensure success in the construction process. Before building the houses, trust was built among the community members through continuous communication and information sharing. The design team stayed on site the whole time and worked hands on with the construction team. Community members were asked to build their own demo houses to understand their needs and aspirations. Continuous site visits, interactions and design workshops were conducted with the villagers. The inhabitants were able to choose materials and space details based on basic design principles. The use of materials that have high-embodied energy were reduced. Local labour, skills and materials were used as much as possible, with the technical knowledge provided by the BRAC university staff and students to enhance construction knowledge base of the locals.

This process helped in designing climate resilient houses keeping in mind budget and climatic stresses. The first demonstration house was built for the recipient chosen by the community members themselves. Afterwards, the remaining 42 houses were constructed for all the other village households.

During the implementation process, the project was able to establish a good relationship among the participants. Now the need is to integrate this disaster resilient habitat development approach into mainstream development strategy.

For more details please log on or