Coal chemicals were discovered early in the steel-making process as by-products derived from coal-to-coke conversion. In both gas and liquid forms, these chemicals were to become extremely valuable in a great variety of applications.
The coke ovens produced coke for the blast furnace and iron production as well as chemicals such as fertilisers, town gas, coal tar and benzole. Coal tar and benzole were then further processed in a chemical plant.
These aromatic chemicals were converted into useful chemicals such as dyes, wood-protection oils, fuels and solvents.
Bakelite, based on phenol extracted from coal tar, was the first synthetic polymer ever produced, marking the launch of polymer chemistry, which is still thriving today.