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Needle Coke Market By Grade (Base Premium, Intermediate Premium, Super Premium), By Type (Petroleum Derived, Coal Tar Pitch Derived), By End-User (Steel Industry, Aluminum Industry, Nuclear Power) - Growth, Future Prospects & Competitive Analysis, 2017 – 2025

The premium type of petroleum coke and coal tar based coke is needle coke. Coke is a byproduct of oil refining and coal gasification process and is used as a fuel to manufacture iron, steel and anodes for aluminum smelters. Higher quality ultra-high power (UHP) graphite electrodes and cathode electrodes to melt the scrap metal for recycling steel in the electric arc furnace (EAF) are manufactured from needle coke. For the production, of needle coke the separation of heavy fraction of aromatic feedstock is required to be done in fractionation unit. The thick fraction is then fed to coker unit to attain coking temperatures (3000˚C). The furnace operation is critical since it has to ‘delay’ the feed to attain desired temperature. This minimizes the coke formation in the furnace. Thus, the effective extraction of needle coke is done in this step which is similar to delayed coking.

Based on the type of needle coke, the market is segmented into oil & gas and coal tar pitch derived. Needle coke is the major heating elements used in an electric arc furnace (EAF) for steel making. Scrap from old cars or appliances are melted to form steel. The EAF steel furnace requires high quality coke for graphite electrode manufacturing. The demand from steel industry for specialty cokes is increasing for UHP (Ultra High Power) EAF to produce steel. The developed economies have huge demand of steel and aluminum due to its high consumption in automobiles, heavy equipment and machineries, aircraft amongst others. Graphitized cathodes are used in aluminum production and graphite electrodes are used in steel production. Thus, for graphitization of electrodes in metal production has led to high demand for needle coke globally.

In terms of grade, the needle coke is bifurcated into base premium, intermediate premium and super premium needle coke. The base premium needle coke has the highest coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) that is less than 0.65 (10-6/ºC). The sulfur content is less than 0.6% and hydrogen content is in the range of 0.035-0.055%. The intermediate premium coke has the CTE less than 0.5 (10-6/ºC). The xylene content is 2.12 g/cm3 and hydrogen content is similar to base premium type. The super-premium needle coke has sulfur content less than 0.4%. The coefficient of thermal expansion is less than 0.4 (10-6/ºC) Max. World’s biggest manufacturers of needle coke also have super premium needle cokes with CTE as low as 0.1 (10-6/ºC) Max. On the basis of end-user, the market is segmented into steel industry, aluminum industry, nuclear power plants and others (lithium batteries, aerospace, etc.)

U.S., China and Japan are the world’s top manufacturers of needle coke. India, Russia, Germany and the U.K are the other major countries where needle coke and graphite electrode manufacturing is based. The world’s largest manufacturer of needle coke is Conoco Phillips (Phillips 66). There are only 2 companies in the world which derive needle coke from coal tar pitch. Both the companies are Japan based. As of 2017, the global EAF based steel production is expected to witness high growth rate. This has led to similar rise in demand of the graphite electrodes. Eventually, the rise in graphite electrode demand is expected to trigger the demand for needle coke.

The key players present in this market are: Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company Ltd., Graphite India Ltd, Phillips 66, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, and Sea-Drift Coke LP among others.

Needle Coke Market

On the basis of end-user, the global needle coke market is categorized into following segments:

  • Steel Industry
  • Aluminum Industry
  • Nuclear Power
  • ‘Others’ (Lithium Battery, Aerospace, Electric Carbon Brush, etc.)

Needle Coke Market

In the graphite electrode manufacturing needle coke is a major constituent. Needle coke accounts for almost 40% of the cost of manufacturing of graphite electrode. Needle coke is a derivative of crude oil and coal tar. Its major application is in the graphite electrode industry. The graphite electrodes in turn are used in manufacturing of steel and aluminum. Needle coke is used as consumable in the production of graphite electrode and cathode electrode. The premium coke is able to carry high current even at low voltage for manufacturing steel and other non-ferrous metals through electro arc furnace (EAF) and Laddle Furnace route.

Steel industry is the highest ranked user of needle coke for their production. Needle coke provides electrical and thermal conductivity, mechanical strength, thermal shock resistance, machinability and thermal expansion. Needle coke is also used in manufacturing of lithium ion batteries, electric cars and some intrinsic parts of mobile phones. Cathode required in smelting of aluminum is also manufactured from needle coke.

Based on geographical distribution, the global needle coke market is segmented into following regions and countries:

  • North America
    • U.S.
    • Canada
  • Europe
    • Germany
    • France
    • U.K.
    • Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific
    • China
    • India
    • Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
    • Brazil
    • Mexico
    • Rest of Latin America
  • Middle East & Africa
    • GCC
    • Rest of Middle East & Africa

Needle Coke Market

Global needle coke manufacturing is concentrated in the U.S., Japan and China, majorly. Conoco Phillips from the U.S. is the largest manufacturer/producer of needle coke. The coal tar pitch derived needle coke has only two producers in the world. Mitsubishi Chemicals and C-Chem are those two companies from Japan.

One of the major concerns for graphite electrode manufacturers and suppliers is that the availability of needle coke is limited and sometimes the waiting period is over one year. This dampens new capacity addition in graphite electrode industry. In Japan, an AGOT (Atcheson Graphite Ordinary Temperature) graphite is used as an insulator in nuclear reactors even at temperature below 1 K (kelvin). This property is useful in controlling chain reaction of uranium and thorium that are used in electricity production.  

Needle coke availability is scarce in the global market and its production is controlled by 7-10 players in the U.S and Japan. There is a direct relation between needle coke processes with crude oil prices. With the fluctuation in crude oil prices, the needle coke manufacturers are approaching graphite electrode players for the revision of prices. Asia Pacific region is the largest consumer of needle coke which is followed by Middle East & Africa. China is the largest importer of needle coke.

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Published Date:  Dec 2017
Category:  Energy
Report ID:   58868
Report Format:   PDF
Pages:   120
Rating:    4.5 (65)
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