Purdue Researchers Develop Low-Cost Steel Making Process

The process creates coke, which is used for making steel, out of low-cost Indiana-Illinois Basin coal.

Bethlehem Stee

Photo: The dorsch (Flickr)

Bethlehem Steel releases air vapors as seen from Miller Beach in Gary.

A team of Purdue University Calumet researchers has developed and patented a new, less costly way to make coke for steel making that uses lower-cost Indiana-Illinois Basin coal.

Lead researcher Physics Professor Robert Kramer says the process also yields liquid transportation fuels, fertilizer, hydrogen and electricity.

“The coke making process is refereed to as pyrolysis,” he says. “By doing that at certain temperatures and techniques we’ve developed with different blends of coal as well as the extraction temperature. We can then make it very compatible with these other processes.”

About 22 percent of base American steel is produced here in Indiana, requiring 8 million tons of coal each year to make coke. But little of that coal comes from within the state. The new process allows more regional coal to be used.

Kramer says they hope to get more grants to begin a semi-commercial test of the process in about one year. The patent that the Purdue Calumet team earned is assigned to the Purdue Research Foundation of West Lafayette.

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