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

Collaborate… to innovate!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Never Underestimate the Potential to Adapt

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Many people are aware of the revolutionary impact that shale oil and gas are having on the U.S. energy industry. Since 2008, production has grown dramatically from less than 0.5 million bbl/day to more than 3 million bbl/day. The U.S. is now seeing strong growth in gas-fired power generation and the resurgence of a chemical industry driven by low-cost gas. … Read More

One Man’s Trash…

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John D. Rockefeller may have been the richest American who ever lived, but he had a frugal man’s disdain for waste and disorder. Instead of discarding the byproducts that came from refining oil to kerosene, he invested in research and development to make the process more efficient. He sold one byproduct, paraffin, to candlemakers; and another, petroleum jelly, to medical … Read More

Necessity Really Can Be the Mother of Invention

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Writing a blog is like playing with Play-Doh

The world is full of innovations that wouldn’t have come to fruition without determination, open-mindedness and sometimes, desperation. Play-Doh, for example, was created by a soap manufacturer who first sold the doughy material to rub coal heating soot off wallpaper. On the verge of bankruptcy after coal heating was phased out, the company reinvented its product as a child’s toy. … Read More