I Home I How it all began I VSBK Technology I VSBK Centres I Factfile I

A study "Structural Transformation Governing Sustainability Of Building Materials" was undertaken to assess the energy consumption and resultant emissions from the construction sector in India. An important finding of the study was that a growing gap between demand and supply of crucial building materials exists and that the four primary building materials; cement, steel, bricks and lime account for more than 80% of the net emissions attributed to the construction activity. The inevitable growth of population and societal expectations over the next few decades would require significant augmentation of supply of energy intensive materials. To minimise the net CO2 emissions, would require the development of sustainable production systems based on alternate low energy materials and highly energy efficient technologies. A specific case of walling was used to further examine factors that would govern the introduction of such sustainable production technologies.

The net contribution of burnt bricks to the national economy is very significant as it accounts for 27% of the emissions resulting from production of construction materials. The total CO2 emissions for 1989-90 for the four primary building materials were estimated to be 80.5 million tones. If the production of burnt bricks is allowed to grow to meet the projected demand of housing, this would result in a doubling of the energy requirement by 2020. The resultant CO2 emission would also double during the period 1990-2020 through continuation of the current brick firing technologies. The net energy savings possible from a series of actions involving improvement in technology, introduction of energy efficient technologies and partial material substitution for walling; has an energy saving potential of 33% over current technologies. A further 50% reduction is possible through usage of industrial wastes.

The case study undertaken by Development Alternatives and TERI with Environmental and Energy Audits conducted at existing brick production sites concluded that the current technologies are energy intensive and result in heavy particulate pollution. The specific energy consumption for bricks coupled with the large demand entails fuel consumption equivalent to over ten million tones of coal per annum. The most commonly practiced technology is the Bulls Trench Kiln with an average capacity of 30,000 bricks per day. The fuel consumption ranges from 5.1 GJ to 3.2 GJ per 1000 bricks, in different parts of the country depending on type of chimney, fuel type, soil type and firing practices. The introduction of the fixed chimney kiln is one major technology leap which occurred almost three decades ago. The disheartening factor is that only 10% of the kilns countrywide have adopted this technology variant even though the fuel savings are well established.

The existing brick production technologies result in high suspended particulate matter which is injurious to health. The emissions from the stack also effect the flora and fauna in the surrounding areas. The detrimental affect on trees and vegetation is quite serious from the point of view of sustaining livelihoods. The damage to agriculture and horticulture is also rampant in areas surrounding brick clusters. The Honourable Supreme Court of India has issued directives for discontinuing the movable chimney kilns and for all brick kilns to conform to new environmental norms by 30 June 2001.

From the above considerations it was concluded that new technology options are needed to ensure augmentation of supply of critical building materials; including bricks. It is in this context that SDC initiated the VSBK Action Research Project. 

Action Research Phase :

An Action Research Programme was started in 1995 with the objective of validating the potential of VSBK technology under different soil-market-climate conditions in India and evaluating its performance in comparison with conventional practices. The programme was implemented by Development Alternatives in association with Tata Energy Research Institute, with the support of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SKAT and Sorane Sa - two Swiss Consulting Organisations provided technical guidance and support.

Four pilot VSBKs were established in sequence, in association with diverse partners. Technology support for construction and operation were provided by the Chinese experts from Energy Research Institute of Henan Academy of Sciences at Zheng Zhou.

The pilot operations indicated better energy efficiency, lower emissions than other technologies and better quality in terms of colour, ring and strength compared to clamps. Brick makers big and small and concerned agencies such as All India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation (AIBTMF), Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) have shown keen interest in the project and are helping guide its progress.

Subsequently, 3 more kilns were constructed in the year 2000; VSBK-5 at Gwalior in association with Yade Brick Industries, VSBK-2000 at Datia by DA (as part of its VSBK Service Centre),and VSBK-7 at Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, in association with Om Construction Company.

In this phase, many modifications were made by the Indian team for achieving better performance of the kiln and improvement in the working environment for the operators. Also, emphasis of the project was enlarged to cover the overall brick production system. These include methods to improve quality of green bricks by introduction of extruders and mechanised handling systems.

India Brick Project : Predissemination Phase

The project has entered the Pre-dissemination Phase of the SDC : India Brick Project (IBP) from 1 July 2000 and is being facilitated by Fourth Vision Consultants. The main objective of this phase is to develop strategies for subsequent large-scale dissemination and build up capacity and support facilities needed for dissemination. It is planned to establish Lead Entrepreneurs and Technology Providers for providing technology support services, in markets where implementation by the five partner organisations will be undertaken. A significant component of the project is social actions for achieving stabilisation of livelihoods in the brick industry.

With the start of this phase, actions are underway for establishment of a number of VSBK's in different parts of the country. Typically, the kilns are being established by entrepreneurs at their own cost after being convinced about the viability of the VSBK technology. Kilns under various stages of establishment under the aegis of the technology promoter organisations. <--(click here)