In the present work, CeO2 nanopowder was synthesized via a reverse precipitation method using CeCl3 center dot 7H(2)O, NH4OH and sodium dodecyl sulfate as raw materials. The effect of thermal treatment on the crystal growth, surface area and chemical bonds of the powder was discussed. The structural evolutions and morphological characteristics of the nanopowder were investigated using X-ray diffractometery, transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, differential thermal analysis and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The results showed that CeO2 with an average particle size of 45 nm is formed. The BET surface area increased to approximate to 41 m(2)/g, with increasing calcination to 300 degrees C; then, it decreased following calcination at higher temperatures. The particles sintered and agglomerateed together after 500 degrees C. The activation energy for CeO2 nanocrystallite growth during calcination was calculated to be about 14.6 kJ/mol. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.