A method for producing an alkali metal hydroxide, comprises providing an electrolytic cell that includes at least one membrane having ceramic material configured to selectively transport alkali metal ions. The method includes introducing a first solution comprising an alkali metal hydroxide solution into a catholyte compartment such that said first solution is in communication with the membrane and a cathode. A second solution comprising at least one alkali metal salt and one or more monovalent, divalent, or multivalent metal salts is introduced into an anolyte compartment such that said second solution is in communication with the membrane and an anode. The method includes applying an electric potential to the electrolytic cell such that alkali metal ions pass through the membrane and are available to undertake a chemical reaction with hydroxyl ions in the catholyte compartment to form alkali metal hydroxide.
 This invention was made in part with government support under grant number DE-FG07-04ID14622 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.