Habla Zig-Zag Kiln Technology

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The 4,000 plus fixed chimney kilns form the largest stationary source of GHG emissions in Bangladesh which is around 5.4 million tonnes of CO2 annually. Besides the air pollution, brick making industries contributes to three other serious environmental concerns: land degradation, deforestation and depletion of water resources”

International Labour Office (Geneva) Report Skills for Green Jobs in Bangladesh – 2010



  • Brick making industry is the single largest emitter of industrial black carbon in Asia - major contributor to Asian Brown Cloud (ABC).
  • Significant impact on global warming.
  • Large emitter of CO2 & GHG due to high coal use - emitting 890 million tonnes CO2 p.a.
  • At a conservative estimate, 300,000 outdated brick kilns burn 1,500 billion bricks p.a., consuming 375 million tonnes of coal - plus scavenged fuels
  • Significant social problems - clean air, health, safety, living and working conditions, in addition to regional problems.


The brick making industry in developing countries is most often the industry of the very poor and under-privileged.

The use of very primitive and highly polluting clamp kilns is widespread in India and Africa,Fixed Chimney Bulls Trench Kilns are predominant in Bangladesh and Nepal, where pressure for low emission technology is mounting in some circles:



The basic concept of brick kiln technology in developing countries has changed little over the past thousands of years. Brick making is an ancient technology. Bricks are made, dried, fired and cooled.

Kilns first started in pits, walls were then added. The addition of a chimney stack, improved the air flow or draw of the kiln, thus burning the fuel more completely. Several variations have been invented over the years with varying degrees of efficiency and cost.

Brick kilns fall into one, or both, of the following categories:


Kilns are sealed and the internal temperature increased according to a schedule. After the firing process is complete, both the kiln and bricks are cooled. The kiln is left to cool sufficiently before the bricks can be removed. Due to the relative ease and cost of construction these are the kilns types primarily used in developing countries.

Continuous (or Tunnel)

There are two types of continuous kilns:

  • Tunnel kiln - the bricks are moved through a stationary fire zone, like a train in a tunnel.
  • Continuous kiln - the bricks remain stationary and the fire moves through the kiln with assistance or help of a chimney or by a suction fan.

Both types are long structures in which only the central portion is directly heated. The same result can be achieved with both types of kilns.

The main difference is the tunnel kiln is vastly more expensive to build however it saves on labour costs and can be highly automated, bricks can be made and burnt without being touched by human hands.


The following kilns are most commonly in use today:

Clamp Kiln – ANCIENT TECHNOLOGY 4,000 B.C.
The most commonly used kiln in the developing world. These kilns have a devastating impact both on the environment and workers. Generally built with four brick walls like a room, then green bricks are stacked inside. They are inefficient in fuel, labour intensive and highly polluting. They are only operated in intermittent mode. To produce higher brick production clamp kilns are frequently built, grouped and operated in clusters.

Hoffman Kiln – INVENTED GERMANY 1858
These kilns have a large permanent arched masonry and an expensive tall masonry chimney of about 30 metres. They must operate in continuous mode.

Tunnel Kiln – INVENTED GERMANY 1877
Most common in developed countries, since their invention tunnel kilns have now become highly automated and are for large brick production. Bricks move mechanically through a long stationary fire zone. They have minimal labour requirements but a very high capital cost. They must be operated in continuous mode and require a guaranteed electricity supply. One such plant built in New South Wales in 1993 cost $40 million, one currently proposed for Perth will be over $75 million.

Bull's Trench Kiln – INVENTED ENGLAND 1876
Movable Bull's Trench Kiln is commonly used in India and many developing countries. This kiln uses movable metal chimneys which are lifted and man-handled by a team of workers into different positions as the fire moves through the kiln. Has very high emissions, dispersed over a wide area, working conditions are hazardous. Although banned in many areas is still used. The Improved Bull's Trench Kiln has a permanent, fixed brick chimney over 30 metres high. The chimney requires skilled bricklayers to construct and is costly to build. The kiln can only be operated in continuous mode. It has no roof and cannot be used during the monsoon season.

Vertical Shaft Kiln – INVENTED CHINA 1958
Reasonably fuel efficient however the kiln is limited due to a low throughput. Green bricks are loaded into the shaft and therefore must be hauled up a ramp to the top of the kiln.

Habla Zig-Zag Kiln – INVENTED GERMANY 1927
The Habla Zig-Zag Kiln is the most fuel efficient kiln yet invented and the cheapest to build. It features a long fire zone advanced by a suction fan. The Habla Zig-Zag Kiln consumes less fuel, uses less mechanical energy and requires far less capital outlay with almost no maintenance. It also has a roof resulting in improved working conditions, the potential of water being collected and longer operational time during monsoon conditions. The Habla Zig-Zag Kiln is ideally suited to both large scale continuous brick making operations and to small semi-continuous village applications in developing countries.


Brick making consists of the following processes:

  • Winning – digging for clay
  • Preparation – preparing the clay for shaping
  • Shaping – moulded using various mould types and methods, by hand or by machine
  • Drying – open air, hot floor, chamber, tunnel, etc
  • Firing – various kiln methods including Bull’s Trench, Clamp, Habla, Hoffman, Tunnel, etc.
  • Quality Control – sorted into grades, e.g. firsts, seconds, soft (reburn)
  • Dispatch – Sales

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