Abstract: Sepiolite from Mara (Zaragoza, Spain) and palygorskite from Attapulgus (Georgia, USA) were activated by treatment at different concentrations with solutions of boiling HCl under reflux conditions. The natural and treated solids were characterized by mineralogical, chemical and textural analyses.
Acid attack resulted in a progressive dissolution of the octahedral layer of these silicates. Silica contents increased and octahedral cations (Al, Mg and Fe) decreased with the intensity of the acid attack. In both cases, fibrous free silica was obtained.
The sepiolite was destroyed more rapidly than palygorskite under the conditions used because of its magnesic composition and the larger size of its structural microchannels. The maximum increase in specific surface area was obtained for sepiolite at 3 N and for palygorskite at 9 N. Cleaning and disaggregation of the particles and the increase in the number of micropores were responsible for this increase in specific surface area.