By-Product Coke Industry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

By-Product Coke Industry


the branch of heavy industry processing mineral coal by coking and producing coke (76–77 percent by weight of the industry’s entire output), coke gas (14–15 percent), and chemical products (5–6 percent).

Pig iron was first smelted using only coke, without the addition of charcoal, in England in 1735. Coke ovens with sealed chambers were introduced in England in the 1830’s. For a long time, coke production was only an adjunct of the metallurgical industry. The by-product coke industry arose as an independent branch only toward the end of the 19th century. By-product coke production in Russia was begun on an industrial scale in the Donbas in the 1880’s, but it remained a backward branch of industry. Less than 4.5 million tons of coke was produced in Russia in 1913. About 20 percent of the domestic demand for coke was satisfied by import (about a million tons annually). Coke gas was used inefficiently, and considerable amounts were released into the atmosphere. Chemical manufacturing based on the coking of coal was also at a low level. The production of coke dropped even lower during World War I (1914–18) and during the Civil War and the military intervention (1918–20). The 1913 level of coke production was not attained again until 1928–29.

Large by-product coke plants have been built in a number of areas during the years of Soviet power. The raw material base has also been extended considerably. A number of new coal deposits have been developed to provide additional coal for coking (for example, the Kuznetsk, Karaganda, and Pechora coal basins and the Tkvarcheli and Tkibuli coal deposits). The construction of the Magnitogorsk, Kuznetsk, Nizhnii Tagil, Cheliabinsk, Karaganda, Orsk-Khalilovo, and Rustavi by-product coke plants became possible only after the development of new sources of coal for coking. The coke output of the USSR is increasing continuously (see Table 1).

Table 1. Coke production1 in the USSR
(millions of tons bulk)
1With 6 percent moisture content

The USSR holds first place in world coke production and in the level of development of the by-product coke industry.

The rapid development of coking has paralleled the growth of a concentration of production in the by-product coke industry. In 1971, 80 percent of all coke was produced by plants with capacities of over 2 million tons per year, also facilitating a rise in the level of the industry’s technology. Coke is no longer produced without the simultaneous recovery of chemical byproducts. Modern coke ovens are under construction in the USSR in which the basic production processes, such as unloading the coal, loading and unloading the ovens, and quenching the coke, are completely mechanized. The coking cycle and, there-fore, the turn-around period of the ovens has been accelerated to 2–2.5 times the prerevolutionary rate. Continuous processes for the conversion of the chemical by-products of coking have been adopted. Combining by-product coke plants with metallurgical and chemical plants leads to the more efficient use of coke-oven gas. Labor productivity has been increased considerably (2.2 times between 1951 and 1970), thanks to a more than three-fold increase in the use of electrical power. The main directions for the further development of the industry include completing the complex mechanization and automation of the production processes, intensifying the existing coking processes and implementing new processes, increasing the range of coals suitable for coking (utilizing high-gas and low-caking coals), adopting remote-control and programmed machine operation, improving working conditions, and reducing air and water pollution.

The by-product coke industry is also developing successfully in other socialist countries, particularly Poland and Czechoslovakia. In 1970, metallurgical coke production in Poland came to 16.8 million tons, and in Czechoslovakia, 11.5 million tons.

Metallurgical coke production in capitalist countries in 1970 included 57.7 million tons in the USA, 39.9 in the Federal Republic of Germany, 25.1 in Japan, 16.5 in Great Britain, and 14.2 in France.


Preobrazhenskii, P. I. Obogashchenie uglei dlia koksovaniia. Kharkov-Moscow, 1950.
Spravochnik koksokhimika, vols. 1–6. Moscow, 1964–66.
Ulitskii, L. I. Ekonomika koksokhimicheskoi promyshlennosti SSSR. Moscow, 1964.
Ulitskii, L. I. Ekonomika obogashcheniia uglei. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.