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Pardon my ignorance if this seems like a foolish question.

Coal is quite hard to obtain around here, and it is quite expensive.

I might have access to a near-limitless supply of coke from a nearby oil refinery for free. Does anyone here have any experience working with this type of coke? I would like to know if there are any similarities or differences to coal coke. Is there anything that I should watch out for when using it? Does it have advantages and drawbacks over coal coke?

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As I understand (and as you state) a pure coke fire will go out rather easily-hence the electric blower requirement. I have burned coal to make coke in the past, but have been able to supplement the fire with green coal to keep it burning.

I guess what I should have asked is is there any major chemical differences between coke derived from coal and coke derived from heavy oil that would affect it's properties and performance? Or can it simply be summed up by saying 'coke is coke'?

I realize when you get down to the organic chemsitry of coal and oil, they shouldn't be very different-both being heavy on the hydrocarbon component, but if someone does know of any differences, please fill me in (I've been away from the organic chemistry scene lab for too long!).

Thanks for any replies!

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I have a 5 gallon pail of it.

The next time I make it to the shop (it's on my parent's farm), I will light it up and let you know what I can see (keep in mind that I have very limited experience, so my information might not provide all the answers you want-please let me know what you want me to watch for).

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Wish I could find good metallurgical coke out here in Oregon. I think our only option in these parts is to order it by the ton from someone that ships from the mid-west...

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Sask Mark,
I have never tried oil coke but I have some experiance with metallurgical coke. While I was working in the steel mill I used it quite a bit for forging (3rd shift gets boring when everything is running well) The coke is a bear to get started and will require constant wind to keep it going. If you have not built your forge yet and you plan on running cokeall the time, build your fire pot twice as deepas a normal coal forge, it really helped me. With a thicker mass of burning coke a little less wind is required to keep it going. Heck when I worked art the mills coke plant we heated our belt lines in the winter with coke heaters or "salamanders" as they would call them, with no wind on them at all. The salamanders were basicly a large metal trash can made of expanded metal filled to the brim with burning coke. One of my jobs was to go shake them down with a pinch bar and top them off with coke every two hours. If I was going to build another coke forge I would devise some kind of shaker grate to shake the ash out of the coke mass as well. It seems to me like the ash would cling to the coke slowly starving it for oxygen. My coke forge at work would start to choke out after an hour or so and I would beat on the side to knock down the ash. If you beat on the side of a forge full of ashy burning coke be sure to turn your head. (Don't ask me how I know this)

Good luck, keep us posted on the oil coke experiment!
John W. Morris

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When you fire up your forge with the oil coke, have someone there with a cammera so that you can SHOW us what it burns like. Good luck. I hope that it works well for you.

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Thanks for all the tips guys.

Millwrght, I already have a forge (check my gallery) with quite a deep firepot and a large hand-cranked blower. I also have a very large squirrel cage blower that I could retrofit, but I would prefer to keep the hand blower for simplicity sake (read: I'm too lazy to fit up the electric blower). I will give the hand blower a whirl to see how it works. If necessary, I will fit up the electric blower.

TRIW, I'm not even sure how/why it is produced. I do know that there are pieces of equipment called 'cokers' in use at the oilsands facilities in northern Alberta and Saskatechewan. The industrial division of my company has installed a few up there. My guess is it is the byproducts left when the heavy crude oil is upgraded to light crude oil.

My company is starting the construction of a large material handling facility as part of the refinery's $2 billion expansion, so hopefully I can get to know some of the operations guys out there to get more info. One of the coke piles is right next to our construction site. Unfortuantely, I can't go onto the refinery site as I have a goatee (absolutely no facial hair is allowed on site as everyone has to be fit with a respirator).

Curly George, I will do my best to film the burning for you guys. I might have to wait a few weeks until after the harvest is finished, but I am really planning on doing it before the snow flies here.

If this goes well, it might make my concerns over a cheap, steady coal supply a thing of the past.

If anyone else has thoughts or suggestions, please let me know. I will try to get some answers for you tomorrow TRIW (you've piqued my interest as well).

Thanks again everyone.

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As suspected, it is a byproduct of cracking: "[residue] from the distillation tower is heated to temperatures above 900 degrees Fahrenheit / 482 degrees Celsius until it cracks into heavy oil, gasoline and naphtha. When the process is done, a heavy, almost pure carbon residue is left (coke); the coke is cleaned from the cokers and sold."
HowStuffWorks "How Oil Refining Works"

Seems like a non-excessive amount of sulfur too.
oil coke - offers from oil coke manufacturers, suppliers, exporters, wholesalers & distributors

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I had a problem lighting coke. It isn't easy but persevere. Light a wood fire, add some coal and only once that is going well add your coke. You will get a hot fire as long as the blower is blowing but you will lose it almost immediately you turn off the air. Like you I have an unlimited free supply of coke so it is worth the effort.

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Well, I picked up that bucket of coke on the weekend. The guy grabbed me a bunch of fist-sized pieces. They were fairly easy to break up with a hammer. I also thought thay they were quite heavy for coke. Compared to the coke that I obtained from burning coal, this stuff seemed quite dense (the partial 5 gallon pail (it is about 3/4 full) probably weighed over 30 pounds).

Hopefully I'll have a chance to light it up in a couple of weeks and let you know how it burns.

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im using coke also,my experience is lighting it over paper,a piece of charcoal igniter,2 handful of charcoal,cover with coke.normally i ignite them with the torch,and it burns in 10 min.worth to try...

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A fiend who uses coke mixes his with a bit of charcoal to keep things going. I just watch my fire closely when I use coke and try to keep it fed with air.
Finnr

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I just thought I would give an update on this old thread. I finally tried this coke a couple of weeks ago (sorry I didn't have the camera with me).

The coke that I have seems to still have quite a bit of volatile substances on/in it. When I toss a larger piece on the fire, it crackles and pops for quite a while until the volatiles burn off. A couple of times small pieces explode off (perhaps when a pocket heats up?). A good reminder of why I wear safety glasses.

For the general rudimentary forging that I do it seems to work OK. If you need a clean fire (i.e. welding), I don't know if it would works so well.

I will try to get a video the next time I light up the forge.

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I guess this thread got by me. I have used petroleum coke for over 10 years. I used it exclusively for 5 straight years when I was in Southern California. They used it in the Ukraine when I was there. My brother still gets it when he goes down south in Long Beach. I know what I am talking about.

There are many different grades of it and the best that I have used is the Chevron sponge coke. It is called sponge coke because it looks like a sponge. That is what they were using in Ukraine also.

It burns clean with no clinkers ever. It starts up easier than the other cokes you all have been talking about. It does not go out as easily as the other cokes. I use it with a hand crank blower. It will burn up your fire pot in time because there is never a clinker that protects your fire pot. I use my forge and burn at least 1 ton a month, sometimes almost 2 tons. I have always got it for free, so it was cheaper to replace fire pots than to buy any other fuel. In the 5 years that I used it exclusively, I had to replace 3 fire pots at the cost of $250.00 a piece. That means it only cost me $750.00 for 5 years to operate my forge. Some one who doesn't use their forge that much shouldn't have to worry about that. I got my coke from the chemists that analize the coke for the various petroleum companies in the Long Beach area. Everywhere there is a refinery there is petroleum coke. Most of it goes to Asia to make steel.

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Interesting. Thanks for the info Brian.

I have not yet burned a fire using this coke exclusively so I can't comment on this coke's clinker properties. That being said, a fire pot should last me indefinitely for the amount of times I am actually able to get out to the shop and light the forge.

Does your coke also crackle and spit when it ignites? I believe that this coke is shipped to the U.S. for the production of bbq briquettes.

The next time I make it to the shop I will try to get some video and post it. Then I would really appreciate your well-informed feedback.

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The only coke I have experience with is the heavy dense coke out of the Exxon refinery at Baton Rouge. The LAMA smiths that tried it never managed to get to work in a forge.
That was, however, only one refinery at one period of time.

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currently I am using straight coke. I got it several years ago from a fellow smith who didn't want it. I am waiting for my coal order to arrive so am using the coke. It burns clean and very hot after I get it going. I have a little electric blower and once the coke is going I have the fan on a med/low setting.

Getting it started is not that hard for me. I take the pieces of coke and break it down to peach pit sizes or there abouts. The dust and tiny pieces I keep in a can for later. I have a can with sawdust mixed with diesel. I put a couple scoops of the sawdust in newsprint and roll it up then take that ball and cover it with 2 more pieces of paper. I put this in the middle of my fire pot then surround it with medium sized pieces of coke and then take the coke dust from the can and put that around the the bigger coke and paper. I take a small handful of kindling then start the paper and wood on fire. Start the fan on medium and start putting the smallest piece of the coke on the fire and add lager after. I just keep adding coke until it is almost choked out and turn up the fan, let it run until you get a good flame happening. You now have a fire. After a time turn the fan down to medium or so and pound away.

Hope that helps people with using the coke.

Dennis

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