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The main purpose of this study was to optimize microwave assisted alkaline extraction of the hemicellulose, xylan, from birch wood. The simultaneous effects of process variables such as time (10 - 30 minutes), concentration of sodium hydroxide solution (4 - 8 wt%), solid to liquid ratio (1:8 to 1:20, g:mL), and sample size (5 - 10 g) on the temperature of the wood slurry, wood dissolution, and yield of extraction were evaluated. A central composite design (CCD) and response surface methodology (RSM) were used for the optimization of the extraction process. Based on the CCD, quadratic models were developed to correlate the extraction process variables with the responses such as temperature of wood slurry, wood dissolution, and yield of xylan and the models were analyzed using appropriate statistical methods (ANOVA). Statistical analysis showed that all the models developed were found to be adequate for the prediction of the respective responses. Optimization of the process was performed using a numerical optimization available in the software to maximize the yield of xylan and the optimum process variables for the maximum yield of xylan was found to be: 10 g of wood fibres, 8 wt% of NaOH solution, 1:10 solid to liquid ratio (g:mL) and 25 minutes of irradiation time. About 72.5% of the xylan present in the birch wood was extracted using the optimized extraction parameters.