Petroleum coke is a black, solid concentrated carbon material. It is produced through the thermal decomposition of heavy petroleum process stream and residues. Thermal tar, and residual oil are the commonly used raw materials in the production of petcoke. These raw materials are heated to the thermal cracking temperatures and pressures, thus creating petroleum liquid and gas product streams. Delayed process, fluidized bed process and flexicoking process are the majorly used processes for the production of petcoke.
Fractional distillation of crude oil produces liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heating oil, waxes and lubricating oils, leaving behind some quantity of residual crude that generally undergoes further processing. The crude residue is further refined by a process known as ‘coking’ to produce transportation fuels along with petroleum coke. It offers a variety of uses as an alternative, cost effective fuel. Petroleum coke holds immense potential as refineries across the globe seek to operate with higher efficiency, and extract more gasoline and other high-value fuels from each barrel of crude oil.
Physical and chemical properties of petroleum coke depend on the type of crude oil and the process technology employed in refining it. Petroleum coke can be hard or relatively soft in nature.
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Generally, petroleum coke resembles a sponge with its many pores, ranging in size from a small grain to a marble-sized particle. Chemically, petroleum coke is composed of a variety of metals and elements in a wide range of concentrations. Depending on these physical and chemical characteristics, petroleum coke is generally used in energy applications or as a fuel source in industrial applications.
Petroleum coke can be further categorized into green coke or calcined coke. Green coke is the initial product obtained from the cracking and carbonization of the feedstock to produce a substance with high carbon hydrogen ratio. Green coke is further processed to produce calcined coke. Additional processing eliminates the volatile matter and increases its electrical conductivity.
Green petroleum coke is heated between 1200 0C and 1400 0C. High temperature removes excess hydrocarbons and modifies its crystalline structure, resulting in a denser product. It is the purest form of carbon material produced. Calcined coke is majorly used in the aluminum industry, which represents almost 75.0% of demand for the global calcined coke. The aluminum industry is the major consumer of calcined petroleum coke, contributing around 75% to 80% of demand for calcined petroleum coke. The remaining demand for calcined coke arises from chemical, paint, paper and steel industries for the manufacture of titanium dioxide pigment.
Fuel grade coke, a type of petroleum coke, is majorly used in cement kilns and power industry. Calcined coke is also used in paints and colorings, steel, paper, bricks, glass and fertilizer industries.
In the year 2013, Asia Pacific dominated the global petroleum coke market in terms of volume, due to high demand in emerging economies such as India and China. In India, most of the petroleum coke is used in the cement industry. A large percentage of petroleum coke is used to generate electricity in power plants in China. Asia Pacific is expected to be a booming market for petroleum coke due to rapid industrialization led by increasing investments and growing population.
BP Plc, Chevron Corporation, Essar Oil Corporation, ExxonMobil Corporation, HPCL – Mittal Energy Limited, Indian oil Corporation, Reliance Industries Limited, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Saudi Arabian Oil Company and Valero Energy Corporation are expected to dominate the market for petcoke technology in the near future.
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