Hydrated orthophosphate powders of three rare earth metals, lanthanum, neodymium and gadolinium, were prepared and studied as potential proton conducting materials for intermediate temperature electrochemical applications. The phosphates undergo a transformation from the rhabdophane structure to the monazite structure upon dehydration. The thermal stability of the hydrate is studied and found to contain water of two types, physically adsorbed and structurally bound hydrate water. The adsorbed water is correlated to the specific surface area and can be reversibly recovered when dehydrated as long as the rhabdophane structure is preserved. The bound hydrate water is accommodated in the rhabdophane structure and is stable at temperatures of up to 650 oC. The thermal stability of the hydrate water and the phosphate structure are of significance for the proton conductivity. The LaPO4·0.6H2O and NdPO4•0.5H2O exhibited the structure dependence of the proton conductivity while the GdPO4•0.5H2O showed a large effect of the phosphate morphology.
International Journal of Electrochemical Science, 2014, Vol 9, p. 2285-2300