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Brick industries

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  • 1. Experiences in transfer and diffusion of efficient technologies inIndian brick industrySameer Maithel a, Heini Mueller b and Rajinder Singh cIntroductionBrick industry is a large industry in most countries of Asia. It is also an important industryfrom the point of view of reduction of GHG emissions as it is large consumer of coal (table1) and the large scope for increasing energy efficiencies of brick kilns. There are manysimilarities in the scale of production and technologies being used in brick industry amongthe countries in this region.Table 1. Estimates of brick production and coal consumption in some Asiancountries.Country Estimated brick Estimated annual Estimated coal consumption for consumption/capita/y production (billion bricks firing bricks in million ear per year) tonnes/yearIndia 100 100 15-20Pakistan 100 15 naBanglades 50 6 nahChina 650 800 100Indonesia 23 5 naSources: Pakistan & Indonesia - FAO [1]; China - Zhang [2]; India - TERI [3]; Bangladesh -Rouf [4].Brick industry in IndiaFired clay brick is one of the most popular building material in India. More than 1,00,000enterprises produce nearly 100 billion bricks per year. The main features of brick industryin India are: • It is a traditional industry, • Has decentralized production mainly through small and medium scale enterprises that operate only during dry season (5-6 months in a year), • Has low level of mechanization and a high labor intensity (employing more than 5 million workers), • Brick firing is an energy intensive process as a result brick industry is the third largest consumer of coal in the country with coal consumption of around 15-20 million tones per year, and • Brick industry is a source of air pollution in the form of GHGs (mainly carbon dioxide), particulate matter, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide etc.
  • 2. The industry needs environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) for firing bricks, primarilyto address local environmental concerns as well as to enhance energy-efficiency (whichwill also lead to reduction in GHG emissions). Local environmental concerns have led tothe formulation of emission standards for brick kilns that were announced by theGovernment of India in 1996. The emission standards specify the permissible limits forsuspended particulate matter in flue gases from brick kilns. The standards also propose banon the use of moving chimney Bull’s trench kiln (BTK)d for firing brick by June 2000.Energy efficiency is important for the industry because fuels cost accounts for 30-40% ofthe production costs and hence even a small saving in energy has a positive impact on theprofitability of the enterprise.Efficient and Environmentally Sound Technology ChoicesThere is a significant market potential for adoption and diffusion of environmentally soundtechnologies (ESTs) in the brick production in India. Indigenous development oftechnology and technology transfer from foreign countries are the two routes throughwhich new technologies can be introduced in the industry. Development and diffusion offixed chimney and high draught kiln technology are the two examples of indigenoustechnology development. In this paper we will focus mainly on technology transfer issuesinvolving transfer of technology from a foreign country.In large and organized industrial sector, transfer of ESTs generally takes place fromdeveloped to developing countries. However in small-scale sector the technologiesavailable in the developed countries are not always appropriate to the needs of the industryin the developing countries. This is true for the Indian brick industry where modern brickfiring technologies available in developed countries. For example, modern tunnel kilns arenot of immediate relevance and interest to Indian brick industry, as: 1) they areinappropriate in terms of size and operating needs of the industry, and 2) require a hugeinvestment thereby making them economically unattractive for the Indian market.However, some of the older technologies like Habla kiln or Hoffmann kiln for firing brickswhich were once widely used in developed countries for firing bricks are still relevant toIndian conditions. Looking at technologies available in other developing countries, highlyefficient, Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln (VSBK) technology of China attracts attention. Aproject to transfer VSBK technology to India is currently in progress under an overseasdevelopment assistance programme. In another development, the possibility to transferHabla kiln technology from Australia is also being explored. This paper discusses majorissues in the transfer of Chinese technology to the Indian industry.Case study on VSBK technology transferIntroduction to VSBK technologyVSBK technology evolved and developed in the rural China. The first version of VSBK inChina, originated from the traditional updraft intermittent kiln during 1960’s. In the nextdecade the kiln became popular in several provinces. In 1985, Chinese governmentcommissioned the Energy Research Institute of the Henan Academy of Sciences atZhengzhou, Henan, to study the kiln and improve its energy efficiency. The governmentalso supported the dissemination of the technology. In 1996, about 50,000 VSBK wereestimated to be operating in China. The main features of VSBK technology are: • Low specific energy consumption. The specific energy consumption (SEC) is in the range of 0.8 to 1.0 MJ/kg of fired brick, with an energy saving of about 25 %
  • 3. compared to BTKs (SEC – 1.1 to 1.75 MJ/kg of fired brick) and more than 50% compared to clamps (SEC – 1.5 to 2.5 MJ/kg of fired brick). • Mainly used for small and medium scale production i.e. for production of 2,000 to 15,000 bricks per day. • Initial investment in the order of about $10,000 (as observed in India) for a production capacity of about 5000 bricks per day. • The operation of the kiln is not complicated, the kiln can be operated manually and does not require electricity for operation. • Modularity, quick start-up and shutdown features provide flexibility in production. • Use of coal as the main fuel.Transfer of VSBK technology to countries in south AsiaHigh energy saving potential of VSBK technology first became known to the outside worldin late 1980’s and the first project to transfer the technology to other countries was initiatedin 1991. In 1991 under a GTZ-GATE (German Appropriate Technology Exchange) project,a two-shaft VSBK was constructed at Katmandu Brick Factory, Lubhu, Nepal. The VSBKtechnology was demonstrated successfully with fuel savings in excess of 50%. One moreVSBK was built in Biratnagar, Nepal. A brick kiln owner from Bangladesh visited VSBKin Nepal and constructed a VSBK near Dhaka without any external technical assistance. In1993, a VSBK was demonstrated in Peshawar, Pakistan, again under an overseasdevelopment project. This was followed by construction of several VSBKs in the samearea. In 1995 as a part of overseas development assistance project (supported by the Swissagency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)) aimed at increasing energy efficiency ofbrick kilns in India, a decision to introduce VSBK technology in India was taken.Before discussing the Indian VSBK project it is appropriate to look at the status of VSBKtechnology transfer to Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. VSBK pilot plants in both Nepaland Pakistan registered energy consumption of around 1 MJ/kg of fired brick [5] and weresuccessful in demonstrating the energy saving potential of VSBK technology while theonly pilot plant constructed in Bangladesh could not be commissioned due to basic flaws inthe design of the pilot plant. The two VSBKs in Nepal closed down operation after onlyone or two seasons of operation. However, reasons for closure are not known. Latestinformation on Pakistani programme is not available however the technology was stillunder pilot testing/demonstration phase in 1996 [6 ]. Thus it is clear that despite itsappropriateness for small-scale brick firing in developing countries and very high energysaving potential, the VSBK technology had not found immediate success in Pakistan,Nepal and Bangladesh. Lack of documented information on these projects makes thedetailed analysis of these technology transfer projects difficult. However, whatever littleinformation is availablee , do indicate towards two important issues which are critical intechnology transfer in brick and other small industries in developing countries. • Need for adequate attention to knowledge transfer and capacity buildingA technology can not be transplanted from one country to another. Technology assimilationand adaptation according to the local requirements is an essential feature of the technologytransfer process. Thus, apart from the hardware transfer, transfer of knowledge is alsoessential. The feedback received from the Chinese team involved in transferring thetechnology to Nepal and Pakistan, indicate that perhaps adequate emphasis was not paid to
  • 4. this aspect. The attempt to transfer technology to Bangladesh was different from Nepal andPakistan. It was much more of a private initiative, in this case the overseas developmentagency only assisted an entrepreneur in visiting a VSBK in Nepal. After seeing thetechnology in Nepal, the entrepreneur constructed a VSBK on its own without anytechnical of financial help from outside. Because the entrepreneur did not know all theaspects of the technology and had no technical backup, he made basic mistakes in theconstruction of the kiln. He also introduced several radical changes in the basic kiln designsuch as, doubling the height of the kiln, these changes ultimately led to a condition wherehe was not able to stabilize the operation of the kiln and this resulted in the failure of thepilot plant.These examples clearly demonstrate the importance of proper planning of the technologytransfer projects and also underline the importance of knowledge transfer and capacitybuilding of the recipient for successful technology transfer. • Need for accurate information on technologiesAccurate information on technical and economic performance, operational requirementsetc. of the existing as well as new technologies is necessary for right selection oftechnology. However, such information is not generally available for small industries indeveloping countries. Incomplete and inaccurate information can lead to wrongtechnological choices. Two small examples will make this point clear.VSBK technology is used in China for small-scale brick production. The production rate ofthe enterprises using VSBK technology generally varies from 2500 bricks to 20,000 bricksper day. In Pakistan, the VSBK demonstration units (two-shaft unit) were put as analternative to BTK technology. The typical BTK production is 15,000 to 50,000 bricks perday. Thus, there is a mismatch in the production capacity of the two technologies. Thelarge difference in the production capacity of VSBK demonstration unit and BTK proved tobe a major hindrance in attracting the attention of BTK owners towards VSBK. Lack ofadequate information about foreign technologies (VSBK technology in this case) can beone of the reasons for the misjudgment in positioning of technology.Another aspect that was brought into focus while studying the VSBK technology transfer toBangladesh, is the need for good baseline data on the industry in the recipient countryitself. In Bangladesh, specific energy consumption (SEC) of BTKs was considered as about2.4 MJ/kg of fired brick (this value is almost 50% higher then the normal SEC of BTKs f)for calculating the expected energy savings of the VSBK technology, resulting in anoverestimation of the energy saving potential of the VSBK technology. The problem oflack of accurate baseline data is very common in small-scale sector in developing countriesand there is a strong case for collection and compilation of this data and making it availableto the industry and project developers.VSBK technology transfer to IndiaFactors presented in section 3.2 were taken into consideration while designing VSBKtechnology transfer project in India. The project realized that VSBK technology is notready for dissemination in its present form in India and hence the technology transferproject was divided into three phases: • Phase I: Action research phase for technology assimilation and adaptation and also for checking of techno-commercial viability of the technology.
  • 5. • Phase II: Pre-dissemination phase for making preparation for the dissemination. • Phase III: Dissemination phase.The project was initiated in 1995 -96 and the first phase of the project i.e. the actionresearch phase is now nearing completion. The pre-dissemination phase is planned to bestarted in July 2000.Important features of VSBK technology transfer project in Indiaa) Dynamic technology transfer approach with emphasis on knowledge transfer andcapacity buildingA dynamic technology transfer approach [7] which involves development of the recipientsso that they can acquire an autonomous capacity to assimilate, adopt the new technology aswell as give them the long-term capacity for technology innovation, was adopted .Following steps were taken to ensure knowledge transfer and capacity building: • Long term involvement of the technology supplier:Three year involvement of the technology supplier (Chinese team) was planned to ensure complete knowledge and skill transfer to the Indian team. • Capacity building : Capacity building of the local team included regular information exchange among team members through meetings, workshops and exchange of reports and interaction with national and international experts in the areas of ceramics, brick industry, kiln technology, techno-commercial evaluation etc.b) Formation of a multi disciplinary team to anchor technology in IndiaThe success of the technology transfer process depends to a large extent on the capacity ofthe recipient to absorb the technology. In small scale industrial sector, it is difficult to finda single enterprise or institution having the capacity to absorb, adapt and diffuse thetechnology, thus a multi disciplinary team having representation from the industry, researchorganizations, technology developers and disseminators was formed for the VSBK project.An international team of back-stoppers and technical experts also supported the team. Thecomposition of the team is shown in figure 1.c) Positioning the VSBK technology for small scale productionIndian brick industry has lot of diversity. Based on the interaction with the industry and theexperience of Pakistan, it was decided in the beginning of the project, not to project smallcapacity VSBK technology as an alternative for large capacity BTK technology. ThusVSBK pilot plants were constructed in areas where the production levels of existing brickproducing units matched with the production capacity of a two-shaft VSBK demonstrationunit. In these areas the bricks are generally fired in clamps. So initially VSBK technologywas pitted as an alternative to clamp kilns.d) Pilot testing and anchoring of technology at more than one placeIndia is a large country and considerable variation are observed in brick industry in termsof raw material (quality and cost of clay and fuel), climatic conditions, technology, productquality. Keeping these variations it was decided to pilot test VSBK technology at four
  • 6. different places with four different institutions. Anchoring technology at more than oneplace was planned: a) to reduce the risk of monopolization of the technology by oneinstitution and b) to reduce the risk of failure of the technology transfer process. Thisapproach also ensured establishment of regional nodes for technology dissemination infuture.e) Step by step exposure of the technology to market conditionsThe experience of VSBK technology transfer in Pakistan indicated that undue interferenceby the entrepreneur or local industry in the initial phase of pilot testing is not desirable.Therefore in India, the first two pilot plants were established with NGOs. SDC providedfinancial support for the construction and operation of these two plants and the projectretained substantial control in the management of these pilot plants. Thus the initial pilottesting was carried out in a controlled environment. Once the technical viability and energyconservation potential of the technology was proved under Indian conditions, the next twopilot were established with private entrepreneurs.f) Provision for adaptive research for technology adaptationBrick making process is a complex process influenced by properties of brick making clays,fuel, local climate conditions, skills available and local market conditions (such as productquality and pricing). Thus adaptation of VSBK technology to local requirements isnecessary. The need for adaptive research was identified early in the project and apart fromthe making available the services of the Chinese team, provision was also made forinvolving national and international ceramic, energy and environment experts to helpregional partners in the adaptation of the technology.Conclusions: Barriers in technology transfer and diffusion in small-scalesectorUsing the experience gained in the VSBK project and efforts being made to popularizefixed chimney kilns designs, and transfer Habla kiln technology from Australia to India, itis now possible to summaries important barriers that exists in transfer of technology tobrick and other similar small scale industries. The barriers can be divided into threecategories: • Information • Financing and project development institutional.InformationAvailability of adequate information on various technical options is the first step in thetechnology transfer process for making technology choices. However, despite efforts beingmade to fill the information gap on technologies available for small industries, lack ofinformation is still a major barrier. There are three aspects of this problem:a) Lack of information on efficient technologies at International level: Detailed andaccurate information on efficient and ESTs for small scale sector is not available readily toproject developers (governments, bilateral and multilateral agencies and entrepreneurs)interested in transfer of ESTs. The problem is two folds, on one hand there is a lack ofauthentic performance data on technologies available, particularly on those originating indeveloping countries e.g. very little authentic information on VSBK technology wasavailable to Indian project in 1995. The other problem is related with the flow of
  • 7. information among countries and institutions engaged in technology transfer. Lack ofchannels of communication among VSBK projects in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh andIndia is an example in this regard.b) Lack of baseline information on small-scale industriesLack of baseline information (for example typical specific energy consumption in BTKsand clamps in India), makes the task of comparing different technology options verydifficult. Performance monitoring and compilation of this information on existingtechnologies and practices for energy intensive industries in developing countries isnecessary.c) Lack of channels of information within the industry in recipient country: Brick and othersuch small industries are not well organised in developing countries. Channels used forinformation exchange in the organised industrial sector, such as, newsletters, industryjournals, conferences, internet etc. are not generally available in the small scale sector. Incase of Indian brick industry no such channels are available (even if they exists majority ofthe industry has no access to them) for information exchange in the industry. In the absenceof these channels, direct contact between the technology disseminator and the industry isthe only means for information dissemination. Generally the disseminators adopt clusterapproach for information dissemination, in which meetings, seminars, field visits and videoshows are organised at the cluster level. Written documents are generally not very effectivemeans of information dissemination as small brick industry entrepreneurs believe in ‘seeingis believing’. Hence for technology dissemination in brick industry, field visits to pilotplants and video shows on the technology becomes important for convincing entrepreneurson the merit of the technology. Information dissemination in vernacular language alsoassumes importance in this sector.Financing and project development barriersa) High cost of pilot demonstration and adaptation: VSBK case study clearly indicates thattechnology can not be directly transplanted from one country to another particularly insmall-scale sector. Thus a long pilot testing and adaptive research and development phasebecomes necessary. The enterprises belonging to the small-scale sector are not in a positionto absorb high development cost associated with new technology. Thus these projects needgovernment support or overseas development assistance.b) High cost of technology: The transfer of technology generally involves payment ofroyalty, technical know-how fee, engineering services fee and technical assistance fee.Experience in south Asia shows that at least in two instances: a) attempt to transfer Priyafixed chimney kiln technology from India to Bangladesh and b) transfer of Habla kilntechnology from Australia to India , high cost of the technology and the question whoshould pay for the technology (industry, government or some development agency), provedto be the main stumbling block in the technology transfer process.c) During technology diffusion, small financial size of project and unfamiliarity of thebankers with the industry, also acts as a barrier in getting finances for the new technologies,because financial institutions find the transaction costs of such projects to be very high andare also unable to evaluate credit-risk issues in this unfamiliar industry. In India very fewbrick industry entrepreneurs approach banks for credit, which limits the investmentcapacity of the entrepreneurs for technology upgradation. Thus educating financialinstitutions regarding ESTs assumes importance and making available credit easily fortechnology upgradation becomes important.
  • 8. Institutional and Policy barriersInstitutional capabilities on the supply as well as receiving side are also an important factorin technology transfer.a) Need for development of institutional capabilities in the recipient countriesIn section 3.3, we have stated that it is generally very difficult to find one single institutionin the recipient country, which is capable of absorption and adaptation of the technology.Thus for each technology transfer project a new team consisting of several institutions isrequired. Development and support to institutions that specializes in absorption andadaptation of ESTs in developing countries is important.b) Need for technology brokers (intermediaries) specializing in ESTs.On the supply side also, generally the technology providers are small firms and in absenceof well-established channels, they find it difficult to approach industry in other countries.Even in cases when they are able to find buyers, because of their small size and lack ofbrand name, the buyers tend to prefer some formal institutional channel (e.g., public sectorpromotional agencies for small-scale sector). Such institutions in developing countriesoften lack necessary initiative and professional capabilities. Thus, the need for technologybrokers who can arrange interaction between the seller and the buyer and provide necessaryguarantee for the technology transfer becomes important. The role played by Mr. HenrikNorsker, a ceramic and pottery expert from Denmark was crucial in transfer of VSBKtechnology outside China.c) Certification of clean technologies:Certification of new technologies by the government as clean technology helps in fasterdiffusion of the technology as was demonstrated by the fast diffusion of Priya fixedchimney kiln in Punjab state of India.. However, the procedure for certification of a newtechnology by government agencies (pollution control boards) in this manner is not clear inIndia. The methodology for monitoring emissions from brick kilns is also notcomprehensive and is not applicable to all types of brick kilns.d) Regulations inhibiting process innovations: Environmental regulations generally focuson ‘end-of-pipe’ approach rather than ‘pollution reduction at source’ or increasing theenergy-efficiency. This is true in case of environment regulations for brick industry in Indiaalso where the regulation specifies use of gravity settling chambers with fixed chimneykilns for reducing SPM emission, but do not mention the need and procedure for improvingkiln operation, as an option for reducing SPM emissions.References 1. FAO.1993. Status and Development Issues of the Brick Industry in Asia. Field Document No 35. Bangkok: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. 2. Zhang, Z. 1997. Energy Efficiency and Environmental Pollution of Brick making in China. Energy 22 (1): 33-42. 3. TERI. 1998. Stack emission and energy monitoring of fixed chimney brick kilns. Project Report No 98 IE 41. New Delhi: Tata Energy Research Institute.
  • 9. 4. Rouf, M. A. 1996. Energy use in brick industries in Bangladesh. Paper presented at National workshop on wood based energy systems for rural industries and village applications in Bangladesh, Dhaka, October 27-30,1996. Organised by RWEDP - FAO, Bangkok and Institute of Fuel Research and Development, Bangladesh 5. Annon. 1994. Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln in Pakistan. Rural energy in Asia and Pacific Bulletin June 1994 : 9-15. 6. DA.1998. Technology development matrix of VSBK technology. New Delhi: Development Alternatives. 7. Masum M.1992. Transfer of technology to small and cottage industries: The Bangladesh Experience in Islam R (ed.) Transfer, Adoption and Diffusion of Technology for Small and Cottage Industries. International Labour Organisation.a TERI, Habitat Place, Lodhi Road, New Delhi -110003, Fax: 91 11 4621770, e-mail: sameerm@teri.res.inb Swiss Centre for Development Cooperation in Technology and Management (SKAT), P.O. Box 286,Pokhara, Nepal, Fax: 977 61 21587 e-mail: heini_mueller@hotmail.comc Priya Brick Technology Consultancy Services, J-1/160, Rajouri Graden, New Delhi - 110027, fax: 91 115413820, e-mail: info@priyabrick.comd Moving chimney BTK is one of the most widely used continuous kiln in India and it contributed toabout 60% of brick production in India in 1996e Information received from the Chinese team led by Prof. Yin Fuyin of Energy Research Institute of theHenan Academy of Sciences at Zhengzhou, Henan. The team was involved in VSBK technologytransfer to Nepal and Pakistan and later on in India. Some information on Pakistan and Bangladeshprojects were collected by SKAT led teams from the Indian project to these countries.f SEC of 1.5 - 1.75 MJ/kg of fired brick was estimated for BTKs in Bangladesh by a SKAT led team whichvisited Bangladesh in 1997.