Taguchi method was applied to investigate the optimal operating conditions in the preparation of activated carbon using palm kernel shell with quadruple control factors: irradiation time, microwave power, concentration of phosphoric acid as impregnation substance and impregnation ratio between acid and palm kernel shell. The best combination of the control factors as obtained by applying Taguchi method was microwave power of 800 W, irradiation time of 17 min, impregnation ratio of 2, and acid concentration of 85%. The noise factor (particle size of raw material) was considered in a separate outer array, which had no effect on the quality of the activated carbon as confirmed by t-test. Activated carbon prepared at optimum combination of control factors had high BET surface area of 1,473.55 m² g-1 and high porosity. The adsorption equilibrium and kinetic data can satisfactorily be described by the Langmuir isotherm and a pseudo-second-order kinetic model, respectively. The maximum adsorbing capacity suggested by the Langmuir model was 1000 mg g-1.
- Taguchi method; robust design; activated carbon; phosphoric acid; microwave heating