HAMMOND | A team of Purdue University Calumet researchers has developed a new, less costly production process that has earned a patent.
The patent was produced in response to a shortfall of Indiana-produced coke fuel needed by the state’s steel industry, according to a news release.
The process calls for lower cost Indiana/Illinois Basin-type coal to be blended with conventional metallurgical coals.
The blending process is enhanced to meet coke quality requirements and simultaneously to obtain a specific pyrolysis gas composition. Besides benefiting steel production, the composition is suitable for producing ancillary products such as liquid transportation fuels, fertilizer, hydrogen and electricity.
“By using lower cost Indiana/Illinois Basin coal, net coal coke costs can be reduced,” said researcher Robert Kramer, professor of physics and director of the Purdue Calumet Energy Efficiency and Reliability Center, of Crown Point. “This process provides a new direction and approach for future coke production that optimizes value over multiple product streams while reducing business and technological risk.”
This process enables multiple improved value streams to be produced both from a mine mouth coke facility and an existing plant, according to Kramer.
Though coke, as a solid carbon source, is essential to steel production in melting and reducing iron ore, Kramer notes there is a significant annual shortfall of 5.5 million tons of coke in the United States. That results in increased imports and drastic increases in coke prices and market volatility.
In Indiana, some 22 percent of base American steel is produced, requiring 8 million tons of coal annually for coke production. Little of that quantity is generated in-state.
Joining Kramer on the Purdue Calumet research team were Professor of Mechanical Engineering Harvey Abramowitz of Chicago, Associate Professor of Chemistry Libbie Pelter of Schererville, and coal science inventors Hardarshan Valia and Allen Ellis.
The patent was assigned to the Purdue Research Foundation of West Lafayette.