Solid Na-β”-Al2O3 electrolyte is prepared by a simple chemical route involving a pseudo-boehmite precursor and thermal treatment. Boehmite powder is used for manufacturing the planar electrolyte with appropriate bulk density after firing at 1500 °C. The structure, morphology, and surface properties of precursor powders and sintered electrolytes are investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). As shown by XRD and TEM analyses, nanometer-sized particles are obtained for the boehmite precursor and a pure crystallographic phase is achieved for the sintered electrolyte. SEM analysis of the cross-section indicates good sintering characteristics. XPS shows a higher Na/Al atomic ratio on the surface for the planar electrolyte compared to a commercial tubular electrolyte (0.57 vs. 0.46). Energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDX) shows an Na/Al ratio in the bulk of 0.16, similar in the two samples. The ionic conductivity of the planar electrolyte is larger than that measured on a commercial tube of sodium-β”-alumina in a wide temperature range. At 350 °C, conductivity values of 0.5 S cm−1 and 0.26 S cm−1 are obtained for the planar electrolyte and the commercial tube, respectively. AC-impedance spectra show smaller grain boundary effects in the planar electrolyte than in the tubular electrolyte. These favorable properties may increase the perspectives for applying planar Na-β”-Al2O3 electrolytes in high-temperature batteries.
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