Cerium Oxide Impacts Auto Glass Production,
Scratch Removal Supplies
April 7, 2011
The shortage of cerium oxide that has been previously
reported has grown to include the auto glass industry.
Cerium oxide is an oxide of the rare earth metal cerium, and has
been named in many reports
regarding a shortage of rare earth elements, as an item in short
Glass Technology president Kerry Wanstrath, whose company manufactures
one of the scratch removal systems that uses cerium oxide, says
that, as the shortage has grown, he's seen the price fluctuate sporadically
over the last few months.
"We experience a price increase sometimes weekly," he
says. "It's really out of control."
Wanstrath says it's up to manufacturers to try to assess the market
appropriately. "You're walking a very delicate path between
making sure you have ample supply and not buying the product at
the peak of the price hikes," he says. "It's very hard
to control your inventory when a month goes by and the price has
doubled and you are told you can't even get it."
China is the major source for the element. "There are only
a few companies in the United States where we can even find it,"
says Wanstrath. "I think most everybody gets it in one way
or another from China."
In addition to the use of cerium in scratch removal materials,
it also is used in the float glass process. Guardian Automotive
officials say they're watching the issue closely on the manufacturing
"There are certainly challenging cost pressures within the
supply chain -- a fact of business life that all manufactures are
grappling with today," says Mike Morrison, president of Guardian
Automotive Glass in North America. "At Guardian, we are committed
to meeting customer needs with quality products even as we balance
escalation in raw material costs. So we are looking at the best
ways to address this issue. At the end of the day, however, we also
are about running a profitable business. We are watching this situation
Others are watching as well.
"It's a serious issuegetting this," said Jim Ventre,
director of truckload sales for Vitro America, during a recent industry
meeting. In fact, the Glass Association of North America's (GANA)
Mirror Division has formed a task group to look at the issue, as
cerium oxide also is used for both glass polishing and cleaning
glass before it is silvered for mirror production. (Click here
for more details on that effort from glassBYTEs.com/AGRR
magazine's sister publication, www.USGNN.com/USGlass
Stay tuned to www.glassBYTEs.com
for more on this issue as it develops further.
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