A method for the rapid and continuous production of crystalline mixed-metal oxides from a precursor solution comprised of a polymerizing agent, chelated metal ions, and a solvent. The method discharges solution droplets of less than 500 .mu.m diameter using an atomizing or spray-type process into a reactor having multiple temperature zones. Rapid evaporation occurs in a first zone, followed by mixed-metal organic foam formation in a second zone, followed by amorphous and partially crystalline oxide precursor formation in a third zone, followed by formation of the substantially crystalline mixed-metal oxide in a fourth zone. The method operates in a continuous rather than batch manner and the use of small droplets as the starting material for the temperature-based process allows relatively high temperature processing. In a particular embodiment, the first zone operates at 100-300.degree. C., the second zone operates at 300-700.degree. C., and the third operates at 700-1000.degree. C., and fourth zone operates at at least 700.degree. C. The resulting crystalline mixed-metal oxides display a high degree of crystallinity and sphericity with typical diameters on the order of 50 .mu.m or less.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to the employer-employee relationship of the Government to the inventors as U.S. Department of Energy employees and site-support contractors at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.