Every donation you make to iCATIS directly funds our current and future projects.
Find out more here.

MK Kiln

The MK Kiln is a sustainable burning, double dome, brick kiln invented by iCATIS Director of Research and Development, Dr. Robert Marquez. Built between the service area and the farm on the CATIS-Mexico Instituto's land, the MK Kiln illustrates how an appropriate technology can serve as a platform that addresses multiple issues of sustainability, in this case, agriculture, clean water and energy, all serving important social and environmental concerns in the region.  While the MK Kiln, itself, reduces fuel use and emissions, the MK Kiln platform extends itself to making value added products such as iCATIS water filters, alternative building materials, and allows exploration of alternative fuel sources such as briquettes and waste oil.

MK Kiln: Reduced emissions, fuel use = Happier, healthy communities

The state of Guanajuato, Mexico has many brick-makers who burn everything for fuel from trash (plastic bottles are a favorite) to old tires. This method of brick-making is not only fundamentally detrimental to the environment and to the brick-makers’ health,  but also extremely inefficient as well. The unique design of the MK Kiln results in a reduction of the negative environmental emissions produced by standard brick kilns, upwards of 80%, contributing to dramatically enhanced air quality in the region. Further, this appropriate technology increases the efficiency and reduces fuel use, equating to greater profit margins for the brick-makers and significantly less time for their families in gathering fuel. By reducing the time spent on gathering fuel, families have the opportunity to send their children to school, which is just one example of the substantial social impact the MK Kiln creates. Demonstrations of the MK Kiln have been conducted on the CATIS-Mexico Institute's land for State and Federal Ecology Departments as well.

MK Kiln: Sustainable Fuel Alternatives = Lower deforestation and pollution, Job creation

iCATIS engineers are further developing the potential of the MK Kiln.   iCATIS has demonstrated alternatie fuel sources for the MK Kiln, such as sawdust and waste oil, through the Marquez oil burner which requires no electricity to operate.  Requiring no electricity is critical to success in brick-maker communities, as often kilns are far away from the electricity grid.  This approach to design matches the communities limitations, while providing sustainable fuel alternatives where historically none were available.  The unique MK Kiln pollution reduction design enables waste oil to be burned cleanly, unlike other lower temperature burning activities.  Stay tuned for our results from our on-going study that is testing emission levels from waste oil as a MK Kiln fuel source.  

MK Kiln: Value-added Products = Job creation

Aside from the ecological benefits, the MK Kiln can also provide economic stability through the creation of social businesses for economically-limited communities. Brick-makers can immediately see the economic benefit of the kiln through its heightened efficiency.  However, a brick-maker typically only makes about $0.02/fired brick.  However, Dr. Marquez has also developed an alternative fired kiln product – the iCATIS ceramic water filter.  As has been demonstrated at CATIS-Mexico, the low-tech, affordable filters can be made by local communities, fired in the MK Kiln and sold at a profit, providing economic self-sufficiency for those involved in the social enterprise and clean water for the region.  An iCATIS water filter is roughly the same size as a brick, but instead brick-makers can make nearly $1/fired filter, while diversifying their sales markets.

The MK Kiln is just another example of how appropriate technologies will be integrated with one another to address multiple levels of sustainability, have business potential and address social and environmental issues on a wider regional basis.

Need a MK Kiln in Your Community?

  • Does your local community use old fashioned, highly polluting kilns?
  • Is local air quality strongly impacted by highly polluting, open kilns? 
  • Do you need assistance developing a sustainable fuel source to fire your kilns?
  • Does your community need a sustainable solution for low cost drinking water?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, contact iCATIS for some consulting assistance: info@icatis.org.  We regularly build highly efficient and low polluting MK Kilns on a contract basis throughout north and central America.  We also partner with communities to develop sustainable fuel source alternatives, mitigate high cost or poor quality drinking water, and help drive businesses around these: e.g.., briquettes, water filters, etc.