Petroleum Coke

Petroleum Coke Services

Petroleum Coke, or petcoke as it is sometimes commonly referred to, is a byproduct created in the refining process of heavy crude oil. During the distillation of the crude into the many various fractions and products (gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, jet fuel, kerosene, naphtha, lubricants, waxes, etc.), components of the crude known as bitumens which contain a higher number of carbon atoms than regular oil are left over as the final by-product residue.   This residue is further processed by modern refineries in thermal cokers to extract additional gas and oil products with the final product being a carbon-rich solid material that we refer to as a coke.   

Petroleum coke can be used in many different modern industrial applications depending upon the specific the type of coke produced and specific coking process employed to produce it. The majority of petcoke produced in the U.S. is exported to foreign countries for use in power stations or cement kilns.

Most of the petcoke produced in modern refineries is referred to as green petroleum coke, which can be in the form of sponge coke (or delayed coke) produced from what is called a delayed coking unit, or fluid petcoke which is produced in a fluid coking unit.  Both coking units rely on holding the residue at increased temperatures and pressure to further drive off volatile components of the residual crude until the thermal cracking process is completed and only the solid coke remains.


Typical analyses of fuel grade petroleum coke are similar to that of coal and either presented in the form of a proximate analysis (moisture, ash volatile matter and fixed carbon,) or as an ultimate analysis (ash, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur).  Trace metal components are dependent upon the grade of crude oil from which the petcoke was produced and are also regularly determined depending upon its intended use.  Physical properties such as particle size, density, Hardgrove Grindablity Index, and approximate shot content are also determined.

McCreath Laboratories will send trained, experienced technicians to take a represented sample for you.  Whether stored in stationary stockpiles or in process of transport or loading on board barges or vessels, our technicians have the training, tools and experience to collect a representative sample according to the applicable ASTM standards, ensuring that all subsequent laboratory testing is accurate and reliable.  With our mobile crushing units, petroleum coke can be partially processed on site, increasing efficiency, maintaining sample integrity and reducing the amount of material taken off-site.

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Sponge petcoke produced from low grade crude oil contains higher levels of sulphur and heavy metals and is mainly used a solid fuel for power generation, cement kilns and other industrial applications.   Fluid petcoke due to its high sulfur content and hardness is almost exclusively used as fuel.  Depending upon the operational parameters of delayed coking units, some coke produced may be in the form of what is commonly known as shot coke; a spherical nonporous and glass-like coke form that is undesirable for most other applications other than as a fuel. Approximately 80% of the green petcoke produced globally is fuel grade.  

Some sponge cokes produced from high grade crudes low in sulphur and heavy metals can be further heat treated in large rotary kilns in order to drive off additional volatile components in a process known as calcining.  The resulting calcined petcoke can be used for a wide range of products such as anodes for aluminum and titanium production; production of titanium dioxide used in paints, coatings and colorings; carbon and graphite electrodes and products; the production of ammonia for the paper and fertilizer industries; production of brick and glass products, and as a source of additional carbon in the production of steel or as a partial substitute for coal in used blast furnaces. 

Experts In Petroleum Coke

McCreath Laboratories will employ ASTM standard methods in the analysis of petroleum.  The methods are continually verified through the use of certified reference materials.  Typical petroleum coke analysis performed are as follows:

TestInstrumentReference Method
Total MoistureAir-Dry OvenASTM D4931
Ash ContentMuffleASTM D4422
Volatile Matter ContentFurnaceASTM D6374
Sulfur ContentLECO SC832ASTM D4239
Calorific ValueLECO AC500ASTM D5865
Carbon, Hydrogen, NitrogenLECO CHN828ASTM D5373
ChlorineISEASTM D4208
FluorineISEASTM D3761
MercuryLECO AMA254ASTM D6722
Minerals in AshWDXRFASTM D4326
Trace ElementsThermo ICP-MS/ WDXRFASTM D6357
Hardgrove Grindability IndexBall MillASTM D5003
Bulk DensityPhysicalASTM D4292
Sieve AnalysisPhysicalASTM D5709
Shot ContentPhysicalBP Shot Method

For more information on the analysis of petroleum coke, contact us.