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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Brick Kilns

It's terribly difficult to start up anything in Singapore. Firstly, rental costs are high. Secondly, staff costs are high. Thirdly, there are so many government regulations. On the one hand, I suppose one can better be assured of quality. On the other, the Singaporean mindset is the get-me-a-job kind, rather than I start-my-business kind.

We visited a cluster of houses with brick kilns in their backyard. Again, the machines are self-designed and bespoke built by the local mechanic - someone who is really good with machines and contributes to his whole village in his own way. And honoured for his talent. Each house owns 2 kilns and a motorised mould that spits out long columns of moulded clay that are cut with wires and then laid out to dry in the sun. The families take turns to run their kilns. When their own kilns are down (because kilns need to rest for 2 weeks before the next firing) they go over to the neighbour's house to help with the neighbour's kiln. For free. Again, we have the Crane and Turtle in action.

The lady moves the lever from left to right to cut the column into short lengths. To preserve her back, they've dug a hole for her to stand in. This way, she does not have to bend over all day.

Blocks of clay are fed into the moulding machine.

The motor that powers the moulding machine. Can you see the huge clay urn next to the green bucket? That's for cooling the engine.

Clay bricks dry in the sun for 2 days.

Clay bricks are baked in the kiln for 7 days and 7 nights. Family members take shift work to shovel rice husks into the kiln. Temperatures from burning rice husks can hit 700 Degrees.

The Boss

Fuel: rice husks

Huge mountains of rice husks to feed the hungry furnace

The burnt husks are sold as fertilizer to farms around. Nothing is wasted.


Blur Ting said...

Interesting and so eco-friendly.

YK was telling me that in India, they use a whole truckload of cow dung to keep a single light bulb burning in a house. I think rice husk is a cleaner alternative.

Petunia Lee said...

Ting - Yup! Fascinating!