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MainDBNew: Fly Ash Bricks: Brick production using fly-ash from thermal power plants in India

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Fly Ash Bricks: Brick production using fly-ash from thermal power plants in India







Scope of work
















Good practices and lessons learned

This GreenWin India case study is working with the local community to create a regional value chain and communal wealth by cycling waste, while also maintaining the relationship with all the stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, government officials, and private sectors. It is indicated that a good relationship between all the stakeholders is the key to the success of the project; since it would be hard for the fly ash brick makers to survive if the government or the policy makers do not support them by making regulations that will help them to sell the bricks.
For example, currently the government of Bihar has taken steps to accelerate the adoption of green brick production technologies in the state. Bihar will need over 7500 million bricks over the next five years just to meet the rural housing gap of 1.1 million dwellings per year. Potential savings of 2.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions are possible while creating livelihoods for 0.35 million people by introducing cleaner production systems.
In order to capitalise on this potential, the Bihar government has formed an inter-departmental task force. The major areas that the Task Force will be looking at
1) increasing awareness among entrepreneurs through workshops and seminars, 2) facilitating policy support for large scale adoption by providing incentives to green technology enterprises,
3) facilitating increased and easy finance support for small entrepreneurs through banks and other financial institutions for uptake of green technologies, and
4) accelerating service delivery through capacity building of technology providers.



Date of submission






Adaptation element

Communication and outreach/awareness; Stakeholder involvement; Technology support

Adaptation sector/theme

Ecosystems; Ecosystem-based adaptation; Urban resilience

Climate hazard





Partner portal


The spill over effects of urbanization such as rapid industrialization (increase the employment opportunities), social factors (better education facilities, standard of living), and modernization (better infrastructure, medical facilities, transportation) have led to higher urban growth due to a large migration from the rural to urban areas (Mahey., et al 2016).
The rapid urban economic growth helped to reduce poverty, to increase standard of living, and to decline dependency on agriculture. As the second most populated country in the world, urbanization in India is taking place in a high rate. As a result of the rapid urbanization, the country is dealing with a great housing shortage of almost 60 million units for close to 25% of the population that do not have dwellings of their own.
Hence, building constructions play a vital role to meet such demand. However, construction of building is responsible for approximately one-third of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, in India, this sector contributes to 22% of the national emissions with the main culprits being the production of bricks and cement apart from the construction processes itself. The housing shortage situation forced India to increase the bricks and cement production. The procedure of conventional brick production involves topsoil removal from fertile land (up to 20,000 hectares a year) at the end of every growing season.
The consequences of the activities are releasing a large amount of carbon, degrading the soil, and also threatening the farmers from losing their fertile land. These challenging issues are being addressed in India by an inspiring green business initiative, spearheaded by Development Alternatives (DA), a research NGO and social enterprise hybrid.
This new approach for brick production uses fly ash, a by-product from thermal power plants, instead of topsoil removal from a fertile productive land. Throughout the year, power plant operators face significant costs for disposal of fly ash (300 million tonnes of fly ash are produced a year in India) and it is also known to cause respiratory problems. Through establishing alternative brick production and sale of bricks with low carbon content, a mutual win-win situation for both power plant operators (e.g. saving money that normally spent on waste disposal) and local communities (e.g. less environmental damage is created).
The fly-ash brick requires relatively simple technologies for production (around 230 million bricks have already been produced by hand), is cheap, and is overall more resilient than traditional bricks. This GREEN-WIN India case study is addressing the problems by creating a low carbon economy that will contribute to alleviate the poverty by increasing job availability and reducing environmental impacts at the same time. A low-tech solution with multiple benefits Bricks production in general is consuming a lot of materials, energy intensive and produces a considerably amount of pollution.
Fly ash brick offers a simple low-tech solution to make a more sustainable and eco-friendly bricks. The technology has been developed by TARA Machines (a social enterprise that is part of a wider NGO group – Development Alternatives). Fly ash bricks have several advantages than normal bricks created from soil, such as:
1) being more sustainable and having positive impact to the environment,
2) having uniform colour like cement, which reduces plastering requirement,
3) being lighter in weight, dense composition, and durable.
With the machine developed by TARA Machines, the workers could make the bricks faster and easier. Depending on the machine type, one can produce up to 1450 fly ash bricks per hour.
In addition to environmental benefits, various social benefits are also associated with the commissioning of new fly ash units. The establishment of new units creates new employment opportunities. Spread the awareness of the sustainable infrastructure development Apart from posing negative impacts on the environment and public health, the economic growth driven by conventional red brick industry emphasises the need for developing eco-friendly building materials, which can yield huge benefits to the environment and the economy.
The use of fly ash brick offers an opportunity for productive utilization of waste while preventing the emission intensity of the unit as well as providing jobs to the local community. DA has been working in several states of the country towards the development of fly-ash brick industry, including Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Delhi, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Haryana.
According to DA’s recent report, the state of Bihar produces approximately 18 billion bricks per year using approximately 6 thousand kilns (Maity and Chandran, 2016) produced from Fixed Chimney Kilns (FCKs), which are resource- and energy-intensive, as the predominant technology in the state.
It is extremely important that initiatives are taken towards promoting cleaner brick production technologies and waste management. Support from the Bihar government has come in the form of its initiative towards becoming a low carbon economy by adopting cleaner construction technologies. In partnership with DA, the Bihar State Pollution Control Board has organised several workshops to spread awareness and encouraged the production and usage of fly ash bricks in the state. Also, through DA, TARA Machines has been involved in policy decisions at the government level in the states of Orissa and Bihar. This has helped the company understand the shift taking place towards green technology leading to a growing market and increased engagement with the state.
In the case of Orissa, certain policy decisions by the government have helped further in creating the demand for eco-friendly building materials. The company has also received support from an order mandating all government buildings within a 100 km radius of a power station to use fly ash bricks. Challenges Besides the positive environmental impacts, the entrepreneurs raised several concerns regarding issues that hamper the operation of current units. The issues include:
1) lack of demand; a negative and false mindset is prevalent among the consumers regarding the poor quality of fly ash bricks. The major reason for this mindset is the lack of awareness about these bricks and
2) financial problem; many brick-kiln entrepreneurs are lack of financial knowledge and the ability to prepare business plans and the documentation needed to apply for a loan.
The current market share of fly ash bricks has decreased drastically due to the lack of demand. The scenario is likely to be reversed if a ban is imposed on the existing fixed chimney kilns which cost the environment and public health. This could lead to acquiring 60 percent of today’s clay brick market share. The increased production will have a positive impact on the environment and economy if rigorous implementation of pro-fly ash policies is in place.

Expected outcome


Further information



National; Regional

Indicators of achievement



Case study




Global Climate Forum e.V.



Regional group


Target group

Academics and scientists; Communities; Practitioners; Private sector






The case study approach and activities are highly linked with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As fly ash brick enterprises have increased from 25 in 2014 to 129 in 2016, it indicates more entrepreneurs become aware of the impact of climate change and have chosen to contribute to build a low carbon economy. Shifting the brick material to from topsoil to fly ash waste from thermal plants to reduce the GHG emissions (SDG 13) and pollution can help to ensure healthy lives (SDG 3).
Besides, various social benefits are also associated with the commissioning of new fly ash units. The establishment of new units creates new employment opportunities that contribute to poverty eradication (SDG 1). The establishment of new fly ash units also promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization (SDG 9) that will significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product (SDG 8).



Type of knowledge resource


Scale of work





References Mahey, K., Tripathi, S., 2016. Urbanization and Economic Growth in Punjab (India): An Empirical Analysis. [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 8.9.18). Maity, S., Chandran, K. The Fly Ash Brick Industry in Bihar Development Alternatives, New Delhi. [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 8.9.18).

Implementing partners

Moritz Kammerlander, Jaeger International, Jill Jäger, Jaeger International, Manisha Mishra, Development Alternatives, Emily Benson, Green Economy Coalition,






Content Type: NWPSearchableItem
Version: 1.0
Created at 10/10/2018 14:30 by Serkant Samurkas
Last modified at 10/10/2018 14:30 by Serkant Samurkas