What is metallurgical coke?
When bituminous coal is processed, the resulting material is called metallurgical coke or “met” coke. It is derived after the bituminous coal undergoes a purification process to extract the multifarious blends in the coal. When left in its natural condition, bituminous coal is a naturally soft occurring substance, having a high level of unstable components. When the unstable components are processed or extracted, they undergo either a recycling process or they are reclaimed.
Where is bituminous coal found?
Since metallurgical coke is manufactured from bituminous coal, it is necessary to know where the coal formation takes place. Large deposits of bituminous coal is usually found in the Asian countries like India and China, Turkey and it is found in smaller quantities in the United States.
How is metallurgical coke manufactured?
Metallurgical coke is manufactured through the purification process in which the bituminous coal is placed in coke batteries and heated to approximately 1000 degrees Celsius constantly for 22 hours at a stretch. In this heating process, the unstable materials with the bituminous coal fall apart and the remaining material solidifies in hard carbon. The extracted unstable components usually include coal tar, ammonia and others.
The solidified coal so attainted is called the metallurgical coke, which is then used in various applications like creating metal products and others. Since it is devoid of any unstable elements, gases and due to its partial melting, the metallurgical coke finally obtained has a porous structure. This solidified carbon has less waste content even though the ash remains trapped in the met coke. The ash mentioned here is part of the original bituminous coal before processing. The metallurgical coke can be available as fine powder and/or coke chunks.
Metallurgical coke – its applications
The met coke is used in those products which require high performance carbon and high resilience factor. For instance, the metallurgical coke is used in drilling applications, conductive flooring, electrolytic process, frictional materials, corrosion materials, iron ore refining, reducing agents, ceramic packing, foundry carbon raiser, and heat treatment and foundry coatings. The met coke is also beneficial in the production of carbon electrodes, elemental phosphorus, calcium carbide and Ferro-alloys
One of the primary reasons why met coke is so useful is because of its stable burning temperature which makes the production of metal products and other metal applications easier. It is a key ingredient used in the production of steel where it is used as a reducing agent. The steel and the iron industries consume 90 percent of the metallurgical coke produced every year.
Metallurgical coke – future use
Presently, 500MT of met coke is produced globally where it is used by the steel industries
of USA, Europe, Brazil, India and China. However, experts reveal that if there is a reduction in the export output of China, it will negatively affect the steel industry and alter the global balance.
Due to its extensive usage, met coke will continue to be produced in the future and used in the creation of various metal products.