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- A chamber of brick or other heat-resistant material in which coal is heated to separate the coal gas, coal water, and tar. The coal gas and coal water fuse together with carbon and the remaining ash, forming a hard residue commonly referred to as coke. Coke is primarily used in steel production. There are two types of coke ovens: (1) beehive ovens, which were originally built round with a spherical top like an old-fashioned beehive, and have an opening in the top and various small openings for draft at the base. The ovens were developed into banks (rows) of joining cubicles. During the heating process of the coal, tar, gas, and other byproducts are lost. (2) Byproduct ovens, which were built in rectangular form with the front and back removable, and which are arranged so that all volatile byproducts can be pumped out.