Coke Operations


Walter Coke is a major manufacturer of coke for use in blast furnaces and foundries. In spite of the longevity of our coke batteries, we employ methods and technology which are among the most advanced in the industry to produce coke that meets our customers’ most precise requirements.

Blast Furnace Coke
Walter Coke is a leading producer of blast furnace coke. The majority of this product is consumed by steel producers using a blast furnace to produce their products.

Foundry Coke
Walter Coke is a major producer of foundry coke. The product is consumed by foundries which recycle scrap steel to make cast and ductile iron. Major markets include automotive, agricultural, and pipe foundries.

Industrial Coke / Egg Coke
Industrial Coke/Egg Coke is consumed in three primary markets – sugar beet coke used in the production of sugar, the lead smelting industry used by primary and secondary smelters, and the fiber industry by slag wool and rock wool fiber producers.

Buckwheat Coke / Nut Coke
This product is used by three primary markets – the steel market as a carbon source in electric furnaces, in the production of Ferro magnesium and ferrosilicon products, and in the production of elemental phosphorous.

Light Oil
Light oil is a by-product of the coking process which is used in various markets. The material, which contains several elements from the coking process, is in liquid form, sold by the gallon and can be shipped by trucks, rail cars, and barges. View the Light Oil MSDS (PDF file)

Coal Tar
This product is used in the production of coal tar pitch for the aluminum industry, as an additive for driveway sealers, and for wood treating with the extraction of creosote. This material is sold by the gallon and can be shipped by truck, rail car, and/or barge. View the Coal Tar MSDS (PDF file)

Ammonium Sulfate
Ammonium Sulfate is a by-product of the production of coke and is used primarily in the fertilizer industry. The material is a granular-form product which is sold in bulk, by the ton. It may be transported in trucks or rail cars. View the Ammonium Sulfate MSDS (PDF file)

Coke Byproducts

Industrial Coke
Used in the processing of sugar beets in the sugar industry, as well as in the production of slag wool and rock wool fiber and in the reduction of lead in the primary and secondary lead smelting industry.

Coke Breeze
Used as a carbon source in the production of steel.

Light Oil
Primarily used as a raw material in the production of high density thermo-plastics.

Coal Tar
When distilled, this product is used in the production of pitch for the aluminum industry; and the creosote extracted is used for treating wood products.

Ammonium Sulfate
Used primarily as an ammonia source in the fertilizer industry.

Through a combination of more than 90 years of operating experience, an uncompromising commitment to our customers, and substantial capital investment, Walter Coke has taken the science of making premium-quality blast furnace and foundry coke to the highest level.

Continuous efforts to improve the quality of our products, as well as comply with our customers’ most exacting requirements, include state-of-the-art equipment and technology such as:

  • Rotary car dumper for unloading selected coals into the preparation system
  • Air blaster unloading controls that ensure a steady flow of coal for uniform preparation
  • Coal pulverizers to ensure proper sizing of coals for optimum blending and coke production
  • Fourteen blending silos to separate and contain the sized coals prior to blending
  • The establishment of standards for precise blending of coals as established by petrographic analysis of individual coals
  • Bulk density control to ensure that the physical characteristics of the coke delivered to our customers is consistent from one car to another
  • Industry-leading quality control methodologies are used for sampling and testing. This ensures that the proper coals are used in the correct proportions to achieve the required coal blend. The data is then processed such that all information can be recalled and the blend duplicated at any time.
  • Walter Coke requires all coal suppliers to furnish specifications on their products. The coals are then evaluated against the chemical and physical parameters (including petrographic data) necessary to ensure compliance with customer standards.
Since providing the right coke for the job is absolutely critical to our customers’ success, quality control is top priority at Walter Coke. Extensive sampling and testing is conducted at all critical stages of production and the most technologically advanced equipment and procedures are utilized throughout the process. Additionally, Walter Coke’s commitment to excellence is demonstrated by its ISO 9001 certification for furnace and foundry coke.

View Walter Coke’s ISO Certificate (PDF file)

After pushing the coke out of the ovens, the hot coke is quenched with the proper amount of water, then air-dried in preparation for sizing. The coke is sampled at several points prior to loading.

Furnace and foundry coke are sized at separate screening stations. A crusher helps control top sizing of furnace coke prior to screening. Samples are taken throughout the loading process. Results from sampling are stored on computer and readouts are generated as required. Every rail car of coke must meet customer specifications prior to shipment.

Compliance Record

Walter Coke operated during 2013 and 2014 without exceeding either its air or water emissions limits a single time. Total compliance with all permit standards requires staying below the stringent standards within which the plant must operate. In order to meet these standards, the plant conducts numerous tests of air and water samples taken during the year, as well as routinely monitoring operations on a daily basis.

In addition to other air emission requirements, both the stacks for the Coke Oven Batteries have Continuous Opacity Monitors which were well within the permit limits for the year. Also, the No. 4 Boiler has a Continuous Emission Monitor which was maintained in full compliance as well.

In order to comply with the water discharge permit for the plant, 2,054 water samples were taken and analyzed in 2013. Additional samples are taken to assure internal controls are maintained.

Walter Coke, formerly Sloss Industries, is one of the oldest industrial companies in Birmingham, Alabama. Indeed the story of Walter Coke is a story of Birmingham. The beginning of the present day Walter Coke dates back to 1881 when the Sloss Furnace Company was organized, and the construction of two Blast Furnaces, now known as the City Furnaces, commenced. The company operated under the Sloss Furnace company name until 1887, when the Sloss Iron and Steel Company was formed. Additional capital was invested and two more blast furnaces were built in North Birmingham near our present-day location. Also coal and iron ore lands were purchased. In August 1899, the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company was organized with an authorized stock of $20,000,000. At this time, coke was produced in beehive ovens. In 1918, the construction of a By-Product Recovery Coke Plant commenced on our present-day site, which included one hundred twenty (120) 3.7 meter Semet Solvay coke ovens. Operation of this facility commenced on April 19, 1920. At this time, the plant was considered to be the ultimate in coke-making technology.

Three more coke oven batteries and an additional blast furnace were constructed in North Birmingham between 1951 and 1958. In 1952 Sloss-Sheffield merged with U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, at which time the coke facility began producing all of the coke used by U. S. Pipe.

In 1969, Jim Walter Corporation became the parent company of U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company. In 1976 during a reorganization of Jim Walter Corporation, the coke facility became part of the Coke Iron and Chemical Division of Jim Walter Resources Inc. This division was separated from Jim Walter Resources in 1987 and established as Sloss Industries Corporation and became part of the new parent company, Walter Industries Inc. In 2009 Walter Industries, Inc. completed a multi-year reorganization into a pure play energy company and changed its name to Walter Energy in order to reflect its new mission. At that time, Sloss Industries Inc. became Walter Coke.

The operation of the old Semet Solvay coke oven batteries and all the blast furnaces ceased by the end of 1980. The original two blast furnaces, the SLOSS FURNACES, are now a National Historic Landmark in Birmingham. The coke oven batteries built in the 1950’s continue to produce both furnace and foundry coke while maintaining compliance with all environmental regulations.

Walter Coke produces high quality furnace and foundry coke.

The roots of Walter Coke can be traced back to 1881 when Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company first began producing pig iron in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1920, the company built two modern coke oven batteries, at the time considered state-of-the-art, to serve its own blast furnace needs as well as those of other customers. As Birmingham’s steel industry grew, so did the need for blast furnace coke, which prompted the construction of three more batteries during the 1950s and production levels soared.

As American industry evolved in the ensuing years, so did Walter Energy and its Coke Division. Today, as part of Walter Energy, Inc., Walter Coke is a highly efficient, technologically advanced operation serving a variety of customers in the blast furnace and foundry markets.

The operation now consists of three batteries with a total of 120 coke ovens which can produce up to 400,000 metric tons of coke each year. The oven equipment includes two complete sets of oven machines with enclosed cabs. A land-based pushing emissions control system serves to capture the emissions generated during a push, and a modern biological treatment facility treats the plant’s wastewater.

Following a rigorous coal selection, handling, and blending process, which utilizes the most advanced equipment and processes, properly blended coals are transported to a top house for storage prior to being charged into the coke ovens. Once in the oven, the coal charge requires proper flue temperature control and rigid adherence to a prescribed pushing schedule.

Walter Coke uses the latest high-tech optical pyrometers to determine flue temperatures, and a combustion control system to adjust the temperatures as required. A highly experienced operating staff provides assurance of adherence to strict operating standards.