Update on the Habla Family Zig-Zag Kiln projects

The June 2016 edition of the PPN Newsletter Featured Past Parents Gilbert and Janie Habla, and their son, Peter Habla (FB’06) Managing Director at Habla Zig-Zag Kilns International (HZZKI). At that time, the Habla family was engaged in a unique international project, aimed at alleviating a major environmental problem in the developing world. As the article sparked considerable interest we are following-up with progress to date:

By June 2016 Janie, Gilbert and Peter had successfully constructed and commissioned a clean, clay brick-firing kiln in South Africa. The Habla Zig-Zag Kiln (HZZK) aims to present a clean replacement technology and a best practice solution to mitigate the impact of current inefficient brick kiln technologies, which are accelerating climate change.

Whilst the project was built for the South African clay brick sector, it shares the problems of the brick industry in developing countries around the world. Brick kilns are high emitters of CO2 and one of the largest sources of industrial black carbon in the developing world.


A common brick field and smoking chimneys (similar to the recent Al Gore film “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power“ (2017)
where he highlighted the pollution of the brick industry with similar (‘better’) graphic images.

More than 300,000 antiquated, highly polluting brick kilns cause devastating problems globally in health, agriculture and ecosystems in what is, a largely unrecognised and unregulated industry, especially in South Asia. It is an industry employing many millions of children and adults who work in harsh, often bonded and unsafe conditions. (An estimated 87% of the global brick production of 1.5 trillion bricks takes place in Asia, where urbanization is accelerating brick production by approx. 6% annually.)

In Delhi recently, the Indian Environmental Pollution Authority (IEPA) identified brick kilns as one of the major sources of toxic air pollution, and ordered hundreds of kilns immediately closed. Incomplete copies of the original HZZK invented and designed by Alois Habla have been proposed but these versions lack the compelling results and the authentic, innovative design features of the proven Habla clean brick-firing technology.


Habla Zig-Zag Kiln, South Africa (June 2016)

In December 2016, South African project benchmarks were set: increased energy-efficiency, reduction of particulate emissions, increased production of “A” quality bricks, reduced brick wastage, improvements in working conditions.
The Swiss Development Corporation commissioned independent scientific Energy Balance and Emissions (EB&E) monitoring reports. All the above benchmarks were convincingly met.


Continuous black carbon smoke from Clamp kiln South Africa (left) vs HZZK South Africa steam only emission from drying bricks (right)

The EB&E reports reveal world first results related to air quality, climate benefits and energy efficiency. Working conditions and practices were significantly improved.
The authentic Habla Zig-Zag kiln measured the lowest CO2 emissions of any kiln in operation worldwide, used 82% less fuel and reduced CO2 emissions by over 70% compared with South African alternatives. Emissions readings were minimal, suspended particulate matter (SPM) measured 30mg/Nm3 representing a greater than 90% reduction (SPM) when compared to current Indian average kiln figures of 750mg/Nm3. 


Gilbert and Peter awarded the Business Climate Action Award (UNAA) June 2017 

In June 2017, HZZKI was awarded the United Nations Business Climate Action Award. Judges said: “Habla Kilns had shown how its energy-efficient, low carbon kilns could change lives and have a real impact in addressing climate change”.

In November 2017, HZZKI was shortlisted for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Inaugural Clean Air Award at COP 23 in Bonn. Judges said: The Habla Zig-Zag Kiln Technology Transfer Project was nominated for its outstanding clean brick-firing technology and because it is a model that can be replicated throughout the developing world to curb brick sector-air pollution and greenhouse gases... The CCAC international finalists with HZZKI included the State of California, the World Bank and the Arctic Council.

2018 and the way ahead. Following the successful technology transfer and piloting of the Habla Kiln Technology to Southern Africa, HZZKI is now aiming to transfer its technology to South Asia, where there is serious need and demand for cleaner and more efficient clay brick firing technology. HZZKI is aiming to commence the technology transfer with the construction of a South Asian specific pilot kiln in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.

HZZKI is looking to use the proposed Nepalese pilot kiln as a benchmark South Asian platform, (Kathmandu is an hour’s flight from many neighbouring capitals). The ultimate aim is to rollout HZZK technologies to all major polluting brick kiln cities in South Asia, particularly in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The results of the proposed project, when taken up in Nepal and beyond will bring a positive contribution to the world’s attempts to manage the inexorable march of climate change. Visit to find out more.


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