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Technical Market Support

The Potential Impact of New Cokemaking Technologies on the Demand for Australian Coals

Technical Market Support » Future Technologies

Published: August 01Project Number: C9057

Get ReportAuthor: Stuart Nicol, Bob Durie, Jim Smitham | Novatech Consulting, CSIRO Energy Technology

With the advent of a more environmentally aware society, conventional cokemaking has come under close scrutiny from regulatory authorities concerned about fugitive pollutants and their effects on plant operators and the community at large.

Coking coals are an important component of the Australian coal export industry, with revenue exceeding $3.5 billion per year. The blast furnace route to ironmaking has remained relatively stable in terms of market share of steelmaking feedstocks, in spite of a number of new technologies. While "cokeless" technologies have been mooted for many years, direct reduction processes only account for some 8% of World steel production and growth will be limited, to some extent, by the availability of diminishing sources of high grade iron ore. It is the large and continuing user base of the blast furnace process that provides the demand for coke.

In the past decade, perceptions of a coke shortage have been modified by the rise of Chinese export coke (9.9 million tonnes in 1999). Further, there are emerging possibilities for meeting part of the future demand for coke from sources other than conventional battery coke. ACARP commissioned this report to examine the status of these alternatives to conventional cokemaking, and their potential impact on the Australian export coking coal market. The study reviewed a total of 16 carbonisation processes, in three categories:

  • Conventional Cokemaking, conducted in batteries of slot ovens with or without feed preparation (drying, densification) and hot coke treatment (dry quenching),
  • Alternative Cokemaking, which retain the essential features of heating rate and final temperature in conventional coking but in novel ways and are attempting to produce lump coke of irregular size for direct replacement of conventional coke in the blast furnaces,
  • New Cokemaking, which changes the coking conditions in at least one substantial way from the conventional process and can either produce lump coke or produce coke in a staged process with a form of a regular briquette which can replace part of a conventional blast furnace charge.

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