Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Arcelor Mittal/Republic Steel Coke Plant in Warren, OH

Originally, England used charcoal made from trees to power their blast furnaces. But after a while, they had chopped down all of their trees to fuel the blast furnaces to provide the iron needed by their industrial revolution. Thus the discovery of making coke, and that coke worked very well in the blast furnace, allowed England to keep producing iron economically.

The Rust Jungle posted
Thanks to Bob, who worked at Republic Steel Warren works Coke plant for 37+ years, for posting this. The smell of them baking coal into Coke will forever remind me of my childhood, riding with my parents up Main Ave to my grandparents house on the west side of Warren. I would always stick my arm out the window to feel the heat of them burning off what I assume is excess coke gas.
After natural gas was made available in the middle of the 20th Century, heating homes switched from coal to gas; manufacturing plants switched from steam engines to electricity; and railroads switched from steam to diesel engines. The only 1800's market for coal that was left was making coke for use in blast furnaces. (A new market did develop --- electric power generation plants.) Note that the ship that set a record at Norfolk Southern's Pier 6 was taking coal to China to make coke.

This is the first time I have seen pictures of a coke plant that is still operational. The filling car is rolled under the coal bunker to fill the car. The car is then rolled to an empty oven to shove the charge of coal into the oven. The oven is sealed and the sides of the oven are heated. This makes the coal hot, but because it is sealed there is no oxygen to let it burn.
The volatile gasses are driven off. What is left is rather pure carbon. Coke burns 4 times hotter than coal. [Railcraft] A quenching car (1 and 2) is then parked at the oven, the door opened and the hot coke is shoved from the other side into the quenching car. The car takes the hot coke to a quenching towerMaintenance begins on an oven while it is still hot. I could not find a picture of the device that would ride on the loading side (wide spread rails) that has a big plunger that pushes the coke out of the oven into the quenching car.

To achieve the desired coal characteristics, coal from different mines is sorted and blended to achieve the desired properties. [SteelWorks, last paragraph]

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