The present invention is directed to a method for producing a carbon fiber-pitch binder composition, the method comprising combining surface-modified carbon fibers with a molten pitch binder such that the surface-modified carbon fibers are substantially homogeneously dispersed throughout said molten pitch binder, wherein said surface-modified carbon fibers possess a surface that has been modified in a manner that increases the dispersability of the carbon fibers into said molten pitch binder. The invention is also directed to a method for producing a toughened graphite electrode and a method for processing metal in an electric arc furnace. The invention is also directed to carbon fiber-pitch binder compositions prepared by the inventive method in which carbon fibers are substantially homogeneously dispersed in the composition.
 This invention was made with government support under Contract Number DE-AC05-00OR22725 between the United States Department of Energy and UT-Battelle, LLC. The U.S. Government has certain rights in this invention.