How to Save Energy in Brick Plants?

Energy savings comes from two different directions. First, there are attempts to reduce the amount of energy needed by the plant in its production processes. Secondly, there is a huge new market for bricks that are designed to have better energy saving properties in the product itself.

Bricks have been made with various materials over the years and are used mainly in residential construction. Bricks are laid with mortar that holds the bricks together and hardens to form a strong wall. Traditionally, brick construction has been considered to be long lasting and of one of the strongest building materials to be found.


The oldest bricks on record were made from mud that was shaped and dried. The earliest date back to 7500 B.C. and have been found in various parts of Asia and the mid-Eastern countries. The bricks were sun dried which is perhaps one of the earliest uses of solar energy.

In Roman times, bricks were fired and often stamped with the mark of the brick maker. Firing the bricks resulted in a product much stronger than previous bricks allowed to dry naturally.

Brick making was a lowly job in China but when fired bricks were introduced the job of master of the kiln was a respected position.

Bricks were fired in a kiln without the gauges and ability to measure or control heat we rely on with modern kilns. The temperature needed to be enough to make the bricks appear silver or golden during the firing process.

This took considerable skill as the kiln master had to carefully decide when to add water to lower the temperature but also needed to keep the fire hot enough to provide a glaze on the brick's surface.

Lower level workers mixed clay and water and oxen were driven over the mixture to make it into a thick, gooey paste. The paste was scooped into wooden frames and smoothed with a tightly strung wire.

The molded bricks were removed the frame and each was stamped to indicate where the brick was made and who made it. Kiln fires used wood and the bricks were stacked for firing. When they were done, the bricks were removed while still hot. Brick making was a back breaking, hot, arduous and dirty job.

Centuries later in Europe, brick was considered unsightly and though buildings were constructed of brick the walls were often finished with plaster. It was not until the 18th century that brick walls began to be viewed as attractive facades.

Saving Energy

Clay, shale, and concrete can be used for brick making. Bricks can also refer to blocks of stone that has been shaped to look like a molded brick. Ceramic bricks are what we most often think of.

These are the building bricks that have been strengthened by heat of firing and then by cooling. Many brickworks in the U.S. are located in southern states where clay is readily available in the soil.

It's possible for experts to know where a brick was made by the color of the finished product. In Georgia, for example, you'll find thousands of homes faced with dark red bricks that were made from the famous red Georgia clay.

Brick is an environmentally responsible building material. The walls built with bricks are strong and long lasting. Well made bricks have a 100 year life cycle and that alone saves energy as this product does not need to be frequently renewed or replaced.

The insulating properties of brick are well known and maintenance for homes built with brick is light as no repainting is needed. Energy saving has become an issue as the cost of electricity has risen in recent years. Brick makers who once only advertised the quality and color of their bricks now talk about the energy savings in their brick plants.

The huge kilns used to fire bricks can require high energy use. For this reason, much of the focus has been on developing energy efficient kilns and adding scrubbers to the stacks where heat and soot are released.

The scrubbers are necessary today to reduce or eliminate emissions of brick plants. Most plants to day were retrofitted with scrubbers for their smoke stacks but future plants built will be even more energy efficient as the air cleaning equipment will be designed for the specific plant needs.

Saving energy is not only in reducing the amount of electricity in brick plants used but also in using recycled products in the brick making process.

Industrial by-products and recycled material allows plant to produce bricks while using less of the natural raw materials such as clay. Glass bricks have become very popular for builders and the glass used is recycled and thus kept out of landfills.

The waste produced by brick plants is also being recycled. Scrap brick is a constant byproduct of any brick plant. In the past, the scrap brick was simply discarded but today it is reused and repurposed.

Scrap brick is now turned into landscaping materials for flower beds and used for tennis courts and baseball fields. It can be recycled into new bricks or turned into commercially sold cat litter.

Energy savings in brick plants today take many forms and all are designed to provide additional value or to reduce environmental impact. P.S: Make sure you don't miss our renewable energy section as well!