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Petroleum coke, also known as coke or Petcoke, is the coke that is derived from a final cracking process (a thermo-based chemical engineering process that splits long-chain hydrocarbons of petroleum into shorter chains) that takes place in units termed coker units. Petcoke has many industrial uses, including the production of batteries, cement, steel, and aluminium.
Petcoke serves as a carbon source for producing aluminium or steel. Majority of it is used as an energy source to create fuel for producing electricity or firing cement kilns. Given its history of safe storage, handling and transportation, as well as its low toxicity, petcoke has taken off as a globally traded commodity.
Needle coke is also called acicular coke. It is a highly crystalline petroleum coke used in the production of electrodes for the steel and aluminium industries and is particularly valuable because the electrodes must be replaced regularly. Needle coke is produced exclusively from either FCC decant oil or coal tar pitch.
Honeycomb coke is an intermediate coke, with ellipsoidal pores that are uniformly distributed. Honeycomb coke has a lower coefficient of thermal expansion and a lower electrical conductivity compared to needle coke.
The sponge coke is the most common type of regular-grade petcoke, mostly used as a solid fuel. Sponge coke is named for its sponge-like appearance and is produced from Vacuum Reduced Crude (VRC) with a low to moderate asphaltene concentration.
Shot coke is composed of precipitated asphaltenes. Asphaltenes are large hydrocarbon molecules that are dispersed in the lighter aromatic and paraffinic oils in vacuum residuum.