R&D Funding in a Down Market

Les Edwards & Winfried BoenigkJoin The Conversation

Pilot-Anodes
Pilot anode baking facility at Castrop-Rauxel showing (L-R) mixer, press, and baking furnace.

Pilot anode baking facility at Castrop-Rauxel showing (L-R) mixer, press, and baking furnace.

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 costs, with the exception of perhaps one area: Research and Development.

In May 2014, Rütgers took delivery of a new pilot anode baking furnace at our R&D center in Castrop-Rauxel. This completes a two-year major overhaul of the pilot anode facility which has included the purchase of a new mixer capable of mixing paste at 300oC and a programmable pilot anode press. The new baking furnace allows baking studies up to 1300oC, greatly expanding the research and testing we can accomplish.

Pilot anodes before and after removal of cores for property testing.

Pilot anodes before and after removal of cores for property testing.

So while many aluminum companies have been reducing R&D expenditures in the carbon area, Rain CII and Rütgers have been busy improving our R&D capability. We now have multiple projects underway which will lead to improvements in anode performance and create value for both our customers and ourselves over the longer term. Through this blog, we’re looking forward to writing more about what we find.

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