The Mega-Smelter in Jharsuguda

Les EdwardsJoin The Conversation


If you’ve ever driven on a rural road in India, you know it can be harrowing, especially at night. I recently went from Bhubaneswar to Jharsuguda in Odisha State, a distance of about 200 miles. I don’t know what algorithm Google Maps uses for India, but it’s hopelessly inadequate. Despite using an experienced driver who was masterful and fearless in … Read More

Collaboration Across the Atlantic

Winfried BoenigkJoin The Conversation

Our dilatometer at Castrop-Rauxel

Despite the long list of rocky mergers between culturally different companies, integrating research and development functions in newly combined global organizations is possible – and beneficial. In just 18 months of collaboration, Rain CII and Rütgers, who united in 2013, fully operationalized a pilot anode plant at Rütgers’ largest pitch production facility in Castrop-Rauxel, Germany. We knew from the beginning … Read More

Thinking Differently Powers Innovation

Les Edwards1 Comment

The power plant at our Lake Charles, Louisiana, calciner.

People usually think of innovation as something that’s never been done before. But is that narrow definition accurate and/or complete? Let me challenge this thinking with an example from Rain CII. Several years ago, Bob Tonti, our SVP and director of business development, worked with the Louisiana Public Service Commission, local utilities, and industry groups to have waste heat from … Read More

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Les Edwards3 Comments


A few months ago, I read a fascinating article in Forbes magazine about a culture change being pursued by the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. City leaders strongly believe their economic future depends on innovation and entrepreneurship, not traditional initiatives like offering tax incentives or funding infrastructure projects. They know they need a new and bolder approach – something that gets to the … Read More

Sharing Efficient New Technology

Les EdwardsJoin The Conversation

Coke Separator

Since attending the annual TMS meeting, I’ve thought about the importance of collaborative innovation in the aluminum industry. What spurred my thinking were a couple of customer presentations showcasing technology that we and other companies can adapt to be more efficient. The first was a paper presented by Alcoa1 that summarizes their In-Duct Scrubbing (IDS) technology, which is used to … Read More

Collaborate… to innovate!

Les EdwardsJoin The Conversation

Adding anode paste to press

Many of us just returned from the annual TMS Meeting & Exhibition in Orlando, the premier event for exchanging technical information in the aluminum industry. At the meeting, Rain CII and Rütgers presented their first collaborative paper on work that started soon after the two companies were brought together in 2013. In an earlier post, we provided a summary of the … Read More

Publication of Technical Work

Les EdwardsJoin The Conversation


To publish… or not to publish? This is a question with which many organizations wrestle when it comes to sharing the results of R&D and other technical work. At Rain CII and Rütgers, we believe it is worth publishing the results of work that may benefit others in the industry. That does not mean we publish work that is confidential … Read More

Taking a Broader View of R&D

Les EdwardsJoin The Conversation


Rain CII is a carbon company that produces calcined petroleum coke for the aluminum and titanium dioxide industries as well as manufacturers of other specialty carbon products. While most of our R&D is focused on carbon-related materials, we also fund projects in a variety of other areas. In 2012, in collaboration with BHP Billiton, Rain CII co-funded an aluminum alloy … Read More

R&D Funding in a Down Market

Les Edwards & Winfried BoenigkJoin The Conversation


Like all our aluminum smelting customers, Rain CII and Rütgers are looking forward to an improvement in primary aluminum prices. While demand for aluminum remains strong and the outlook for growth in the transportation sector appears poised to take off, the current global oversupply is depressing prices. During these tough times, Rain CII and Rütgers are intently focused on controlling … Read More

Rütgers and the Precursors of Graphene

Winfried BoenigkJoin The Conversation

Scientific showing a piece of graphene.

Graphite, an essential component of lightweight structures, helps save energy. In 2010, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for being the first to isolate single layers of graphite – so-called graphenes, which have a thickness of just one atom. Graphene has some unique and compelling properties: it conducts heat more efficiently than any … Read More