Microwave irradiation as a means for heating bentonites during acid activation has been investigated in the past but it has never been optimized for industrial applications. The purpose of this study was to apply a factorial 23 experimental design to a Serbian bentonite in order to determine the influence of microwave heating on the acid-activation process. The effect of acid activation under microwave irradiation on the textural and structural properties of bentonite was studied as a model reaction. A mathematical, second-order response surface model (RSM) was developed with a central composite design that incorporated the relationships among various process parameters (time, acid concentration, and microwave heating power) and the selected process response of specific surface area of the bentonite. The ranges of values for the process parameters chosen were: time, 5–21 min; acid concentration, 2–7 M; and microwave heating power, 63–172 W. The effect of individual variables and their interaction effects on the textural and structural properties of the bentonite were determined. Statistical analysis showed that the duration of microwave irradiation was less significant than the other two factors. The model showed that increasing the time and acid concentration improved the textural properties of bentonites, resulting in increased specific surface area. This model is useful for setting an optimum value of the activation parameters for achieving the maximum specific surface area. An optimum specific surface area of 142 m2g−1 was achieved with an acid concentration of 5.2 M, activation time of 7.4 min, and microwave power of 117 W.

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