Lithium Aluminates

Lithium aluminates have a potentially important role in the development of new types of nuclear reactors [78-81]. This role is a result of the nuclear reaction between the 6Li isotope and neutrons 6Li(n, a), which results in a tritium (3H) ion. The natural abundance of 6Li is 7.5%, so ceramics can be made without any need for isotopic enrichment. The 3H ions are the plasma fuel for fusion devices. The design of the ceramic requires a high mechanical and thermal stability so aluminates are often considered; because the operating conditions require diffusion of 3H through pores, special synthesis conditions are required.

Lithium aluminates are also important in the development of molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) [82, 83]. In these fuel cells, a molten carbonate salt mixture is used as an electrolyte. These fuel cells operate through an anode reaction, which is a reaction between carbonate ions and hydrogen. A cathode reaction combines oxygen, CO2, and electrons from the cathode to produce carbonate ions, which enter the electrolyte. These cells oper­ate at temperatures of ~650°C and the electrolyte, which is usually lithium and potassium carbonate, is suspended in an inert matrix, which is usually a lithium aluminate.