Raj Kumar Lakhemaru owns Swet Bhairav Brick Industry, located at Tathali, Bhaktapur. The kiln was established in 2005 AD (2062 BS) and the present capacity of the kiln is 13 million bricks per season. The brick entrepreneur with complaisant personality has been practicing zig-zag technique in brick production since 2008 AD (2065 BS), however, with less confidence. He is convinced by the explicit benefits in terms of energy efficiency, environment friendliness and quality of bricks after he received the zig-zag stacking and firing techniques in 2014 with Nepal Energy Efficiency Program (NEEP). Zig-zag firing and stacking training conducted by EEC-FNCCI and FNBA with technical support from GIZ-INTEGRATION has boosted his confidence for implementation and performance enhancement.
Mr. Lakhemari articulated that after the training, he was able to visualize many opportunities and implemented them one after another. The kiln now operates under the roof that facilitates to run the brick kiln year around. Stacking of adobe bricks is done in triple zig-zag pattern with 16 lines firing zones. Adequate insulation thickness (7 feet) is maintained by constructing a double boundary wall with insulation material in between. Thickness of covering material (ravish) is increased from 3 inches to 14 inches and shunts are insulated ensuring prevention of heat loss. Furthermore, changes have been made in fuel feeding process: the kiln has adopted single man feeding technique; a drastic reduction in spoon size to (300-500) gram from 1500 gram at a time. Even the coal is sized to 10mm before feeding.
In addition to these changes made, the owner had further invested in square type chimney design with the help of regional organization ICIMOD. The chimney was designed to soak the pollutants from the flue gas with 3 feet of water at chimney bottom from where the flue gas passes before exit.
These changes have brought massive changes in fuel consumption, longevity of metal equipments and reduction in labor: the owner has witnessed 30% reduction in labor and about 60% fuel saving; only 600 tons of coal is being used to produce 12 million bricks where as 1400 tons were consumed before for 11 million bricks. Further to this, the quantity of class I bricks has increased to 90% in a batch.
Improvement in production and reduction in fuel consumption have definitely benefited the owner of the brick kiln. Moreover, it has also resulted in benefits to environment and the community residing near: Complete combustion of fuel has resulted in colorless emission from the chimney. The owner added that the suspended particular matters test resulted in only value 100, which is one-sixth of the limit allowed by Government of Nepal.
Areas of improvement for Mr. Lakhemaru did not limit to energy efficiency and pollution reduction. He went a step further contributing to workers operational and health safety and child education. He has opened a child care unit for the children below 5 years of age and provision of admission in the nearby school until the year of 15. In addition to that, strict 8 hours working shift is maintained with the provision of safety helmets, boots, and gloves. The practice of using this safety equipment is being highly recommended, however, not been successful for making it a mandatory till date.
In conclusion, the training has opened an eco-friendly avenue of doing business for Mr. Lakhemaru. In his own words "this really has changed the perception of the community towards brick kiln".