The adsorption of the anionic dye Congo Red (CR) by Na-, Cs-, Mg-, Cu-, Al- and Fe-montmorillonite was investigated by electronic spectroscopy. Spectra of the aqueous suspensions of different clay concentrations and different loadings were recorded. The spectra were curve fitted and were compared to spectra of aqueous solutions of CR at different pH values. Four bands representing anionic varieties and two representing protonated varieties of CR were identified in spectra of CR-treated Na-, Cs-, Mg-, Cu- and Al-montmorillonite. Spectra of CR-treated Fe-montmorillonite were slightly different, showing three bands representing anionic varieties and four representing protonated CR. The ratio between areas of bands, which represent the protonated varieties, and those representing the anionic varieties were determined showing correlation with the acidity of the metallic cation. The clay in the aqueous suspensions became coloured after the adsorption of CR. The following stainings were obtained, Na- and Mg-clay, red, Cs-clay, violet-red, Cu-clay, reddish-violet, Al-clay, dark violet and Fe-clay, dark blue. It appears that CR can serve as an indicator of the surface acidity of montmorillonite. The effects of aging on the sorption of the dye and on the surface-acidity of the CR-clay complex were investigated.

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