By helping install cleaner, more efficient brick kiln technologies, Dr Maithel, Founder and Director of Greentech Knowledge Solutions, has demonstrated that significant emission reductions of black carbon can be achieved by retrofitting and converting existing kilns, benefitting workers, owners, and the environment.
The Indian brick industry consumes around 30 million tons of coal and 15 million tons of biomass per year at 250,000 enterprises – often in clusters near cities – to produce 200 - 250 billion bricks per year. Solid-fired clay bricks represent more than 80 percent of the market for India's walling materials. The demand for clay-fired bricks is expected to increase in the next three decades, as floor space in India's residential and commercial sectors rapidly grows.
Inefficient fuel combustion from this industry has led to wasted energy, as well as large emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), large and small particulate pollution (PM10 and PM2.5), including black carbon, and other gases. Increased demand for bricks means thoughtful and systematic planning is needed to reduce the pollution – and black carbon – footprint from this industry.
Work by the University of Illinois, Mountain Air Engineering, Greentech Knowledge Solutions and Enzen to measure emissions and energy use at 20 brick kilns, has found that retrofitting and converting existing kilns – Fixed Chimney Bull's Trench Kilns – into improved kiln (zigzag firing) reduced coal consumption, CO2 emissions, particulate emissions, and improved brick quality.
Dr. Maithel and his team work with brick entrepreneurs and their associations to develop and deliver training programs on construction and retrofits, and have reached over 5,000 brick producers. Three hundred entrepreneurs have voluntarily switched to better brick kiln technology, based on expectations of verified, improved performance. They are launching BrickGuru, a web knowledge and training portal that uses mobile phone technology to provide guidance and information to thousands and thousands of brick producers, brick users and policy makers.