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.

Cylinders made with aluminum 6063 alloy.

Aluminum 6063 alloy.

In 2012, in collaboration with BHP Billiton, Rain CII co-funded an aluminum alloy research project conducted by the CAST Cooperative Research Centre in Australia. The CAST co-op is a collaboration between Queensland University, CSIRO, and several other research institutes in Australia. The objective of the CAST R&D project was to explore the impact of higher vanadium and nickel levels on 6000-series alloy properties. Results from this work were published in a Light Metals paper1 and presented at the 2013 TMS meeting in San Antonio.

Based on the encouraging results from this study, later that year we co-funded a second, expanded R&D project with Rio Tinto Alcan and the CAST co-op to explore the impact of higher impurity levels in a wider range of aluminum alloys. The results were published in a 2014 Light Metals paper2 and the work showed that it may be possible to relax impurity specification limits in some alloys for selected end-use applications. Other companies and researchers are now starting to look more actively at alloys with elevated impurity levels and we expect this trend to continue as the world recycles more aluminum and learns to use raw materials with higher levels of some of these impurities.

Aluminum A356 alloy as found in a skateboard fitting.

Aluminum A356 alloy as found in a skateboard fitting.

1. J. Grandfield et al, “An Initial Assessment of the Effects of Increased Ni and V Content in A356 and AA6063 Alloys” – Light Metals, 2013, pp 39-45.

2. J. Grandfield et al, “The Effect of Trace levels of Ni and V on the Microstructure and Properties of Four Common Aluminum Alloys” – Light Metals, 2014, pp 969-974.

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