Rhodium is a transition metal with high resistance to corrosion. It is a member of the platinum group, and mainly used to harden alloys of platinum and palladium. It is also used in automobile catalytic converters. Rhodium is found often in types of jewelry, giving it a silvery-white appearance. It can be used to coat sterling silver, to prevent tarnishing from the build up of silver sulfide.
Global rhodium consumption in 2009 decreased to 22,300 kg, a 20% decrease compared with that of 2008. A majority of rhodium use, 82% in 2009, was in the production of autocatalysts. In 2009, rhodium use in autocatalysts decreased to 19,300 kg, which was 19% less than that of 2008. Demand for rhodium in the autocatalyst sector plummeted in Europe, Japan, and North America, as a result of declining vehicle production, a trend toward smaller vehicles, and rhodium thrifting. In contrast, rhodium demand in the autocatalyst sector in China increased to 3,640 kg, an increase of 52% compared with that of 2008.
Use of rhodium in the glass manufacturing sector decreased sharply to 591 kg, a 44% drop in 2009 as compared with that in 2008. The drop was a result of reduced demand for fiberglass and flat-panel glass for liquid crystal displays. Rhodium was also released onto the market by some cathode-ray-tube glass factories that closed in China. On the other hand, the decrease in rhodium price in 2009 compared with that of the previous several years resulted in an increase of rhodium content of alloys used in the glass industry. Consumption of rhodium in the chemical sector decreased by 21% to 1,680 kg in 2009 owing to delays in construction of new oxoalcohol manufacturing plants in Asia. Demand from the electrical sector and other applications was down by 11% from that of 2008, at 746 kg
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