# A computational model for calculating temperature distributions in

**microwave food applications
**

Kai Knoerzer

a,b,

⁎

, Marc Regier

b

, Helmar Schubert

b

a

Innovative Foods Centre, Food Science Australia, Private Bag 16, Werribee, VIC, Australia

b

Universität Karlsruhe (TH), Institute of Engineering in Life Sciences, Dept. I: Food Process Engineering, Karlsruhe, Germany

Received 21 August 2007; accepted 21 October 2007

Abstract

By heating volumetrically, microwave processes have several advantages over conventional heating processes. The main advantage is the

increase of process rates and thus improving the quality of microwave heated, dried, pasteurised or sterilised products. However, to ensure product

safety and thus satisfy regulatory bodies, temperature distributions have to be as uniform as possible.

A new simulation approach has been developed, based on a user-friendly interface coupling two commercial software packages, to model time-

dependent temperature profiles of arbitrarily shaped microwave treated products in three dimensions. Simulations have shown uneven temperature

distributions when products were exposed to uncontrolled microwave applications.

Using this model, hot and cold spots in the products may be simulated to test appropriate microwave treatment control strategies. A further

development of this approach, being one-of-a-kind to date, describes a feedback-control loop in the simulation which helps optimising microwave

processes by ensuring minimal time/temperature treatments and uniform temperature distributions. Thus microwave power pulse programs can be

developed and tested in a model before being implemented in a real microwave system. Validation of the model was performed using non-invasive

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Verification results showed that simulated data agrees well with the measured data in discrete locations

(heating curves) as well as the temperature data throughout the samples.

© 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Microwaves; Microwave heating; Simulation; Modelling; Feedback control; Minimal treatment

Industrial relevance: The presented simulation approach calculates 3D temperature distribution as a function of time and thus allows for the

determination of hot and cold spots in the products. With this, appropriate microwave treatment control strategies can be tested.

A further development of this approach, being one-of-a-kind to date, describes a feedback-control loop in the simulation which allows for

optimising microwave processes by ensuring minimal time/temperature treatments and uniform temperature distributions. Thus microwave power

pulse programs can be developed and tested in a model before being implemented in a real microwave system.

With this approach the main advantage of microwave applications, the increase of process rates due to the volumetric heating can be utilised

and at the same time the quality of the treated product can be optimised and product safety can be ensured by improving temperature uniformity.

Furthermore, regulatory bodies can be satisfied.

1. Introduction

The product and process development for microwave

processing started off as a trial-and-error procedure. Nowadays,

in order to design thermal process operations, the knowledge

about the temperature distribution during treatment inside a

processing unit is required. This is necessary both for process

design, scale-up and specification and for governmental

regulators to approve the process. Modelling can be a helpful

tool in meeting these requirements.

Calculation of realistic temperature and electromagnetic field

distributions within microwave applicators and treated product

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

www.elsevier.com/locate/ifset

⁎

Corresponding author. Innovative Foods Centre, Food Science Australia,

Private Bag 16, Werribee, VIC, Australia.

E-mail address: kai.knoerzer@csiro.au (K. Knoerzer).

1466-8564/$ - see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.ifset.2007.10.007

is complicated because of interactions of electromagnetism with

heat and mass transfer and thus the necessity of coupling the

governing partial differential equations, which have to be solved

in a parallel manner. Due to the lack of powerful computers

during the initial introduction of microwave technology it was

nearly impossible to model the coupled problem especially

when products were present.

Latest advances in computer technology allow for over-

coming this limitation. Numerical software packages are

available for solving the separated problems and great progress

has been made in coupling the partial differential equation

problem, which best describes the real process.

1.1. Review of microwave thermal modelling

The governing equations of electromagnetism, Maxwell's

equations, and the equations describing the interaction of

microwaves with different materials, the constitutive relations,

have been described in detail in a number of publications (Regier

& Schubert, 2001; Regier & Schubert, 2005) and will be shown

in Section 2.2. Regier and Schubert (2001) described the

example of the wave solutions for the simple one-dimensional

plane wave. The resulted exponentially damped wave within a

material with dielectric losses has often been used for the three-

dimensional case to estimate the power distribution within

products. The development of a more sophisticated approach for

calculating realistic solutions based on a coupled EM-thermal

problem will be presented in Section 2.2 of this manuscript.

The governing equations for coupling heat and mass transfer

to electromagnetism start from the continuity equation, the

thermal energy equation and Fick's law. Neglecting mass

transfer, a general equation for heat transfer can be described by:

qC

P

AT

At

Àjd kd jT ð Þ ¼ Àjq

R

þQ

em

ð1Þ

where ρ is the density, C

P

the specific heat capacity, λ the

thermal conductivity of the materials used in the scenario, q

R

the radiative power flux density and Q

em

the heat source

generated by the dissipated microwaves. (For a complete list of

symbols, the reader is referred to Notation of this article.)

The left side of this equation is well known from the

traditional heat conduction equation, the terms on the right side

were added for heat transfer by radiation and for the heat source

by the dielectric losses, respectively (Metaxas, 1996).

Assuming the product consists of a moist solid material, only

the radiation term has to be taken into account at surfaces to

gaseous materials yielding additional boundary conditions and

Eq. (1) can be simplified to:

qC

P

AT

At

Àjd kd jT ð Þ ¼ Q

em

: ð2Þ

Heat transfer and electromagnetic equations are coupled

explicitly by the values of the temperature and the electro-

magnetic heat generation and implicitly by the temperature

dependency of the thermo-physical material properties. At the

product surface, boundary conditions need to take the external

heat transfer into account.

Although there is a fast development of numerical calcula-

tion power, a complete calculation without some simplifications

is hardly feasible to date.

In the case of pure electromagnetism, commercial numerical

software packages are available. A comparison of their potential

for microwave heating has been addressed by (Yakovlev, 2000;

Yakovlev, 2001a; Yakovlev, 2001b; Komarov &Yakovlev, 2001).

Some customised software codes are also described in literature.

Most of them originated from the telecommunication area but

were developed further for microwave heating applications.

The discretisation of the partial differential equations or their

corresponding integral equations together with the suitable bound-

ary conditions on a calculation grid is common to all numerical

techniques.

In practice the method of finite differences (FDM) and the

finite element method (FEM) are most common, however also

the method of moments (MOM), the transmission line matrix

method (TLM), the boundary element method (BEM) and

methods using optical ray tracing codes have been applied.

For short burst of high microwave power densities, the heat

transfer component of the equation can be neglected, since it

is much slower than the microwave heat generation. The

temperature rise in a defined volume is then directly propor-

tional to the dissipated microwave power, which can be inferred

from the effective electric field value and the dielectric loss

factor. Some results using this approximation can be found for

example in Fu and Metaxas (1994), Liu, Turner, and Bialkowski

(1994), Dibben and Metaxas (1994), Zhao and Turner (1997),

and Sundberg, Kildal, and Ohlsson (1998).

To date, a growing number of papers also describe the coupled

electromagnetic field and thermal model. Examples including the

heat conductioncan be foundinSekkak, Pichon, andRazek(1995),

Ma et al. (1995), Torres and Jecko (1997), Zhao and Turner (2000),

Kopyt and Celuch-Marcysiak (2002, 2003, 2004), Rabello, Silva,

Saldanha, Vollaire, and Nicholas (2005), Sun, Zhu, Feng, and Xu

(2007), and Zhu, Kuznetsov, and Sandeep (2007).

In addition to the heat conduction, heat transport by radiation

may be addressed by a ray tracing algorithm (Haala & Wiesbeck,

2000). Since the temperatures (and temperature differences) for

most food applications are more moderate in comparison to

ceramics sintering, where the latter software code originates from,

the radiation termbecomes more negligible than heat transport by

convection or evaporation.

However, most of the above mentioned publications are based

on self-developed software codes and lack the comfort of user-

friendliness, full support by software vendors and extensive

manuals. Thus they are predominantly useful for the developers in

their academic research rather than being suitable for industrial

use (which does not mean that they are not used in industry). In

addition to that most of them occupy further simplifications, like

using water as food material, constant thermo-physical properties

or calculating the temperatures only in one or two dimensions.

The review shows that successful application of model calcu-

lations are often limited to special cases or to very simplified ones.

An example of a successful microwave heating simulation,

incorporating thermal conductivity and free convection (Knoer-

zer, 2006), will be shown in detail in this paper. A procedure

375 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

allowing for simulation of arbitrarily shaped foods and the

control of temperature distributions by feedback-controlled

simulations will be presented.

In order to prove the validity of the model and satisfy

regulatory bodies, measuring temperatures in microwave

heating applications is indispensable. However, this is a very

challenging task; the electromagnetic fields and temperature

distributions are not easily measurable without changing them

by the measurement procedure itself. A relatively old biblio-

graphy of different temperature indication methods in micro-

wave ovens can be found in Ringle and Donaldson (1975). More

up-to-date bibliographies can be found in Ohlsson and

Bengtsson (2001) and Knoerzer, Regier, and Schubert (2005a).

In this work, a new simulation approach has been developed,

based on a user-friendly interface coupling two commercial

software packages, to model time-dependent temperature profiles

not only of microwave treated products with simple shapes but

also of arbitrarily shaped products in three dimensions.

With this model, hot and cold spots in the products can be

simulated to test appropriate microwave treatment control strat-

egies. A further development of this model, describes a feedback-

control loop in the simulation which helps in optimising micro-

wave processes by ensuring minimal time/temperature treatments

and uniform temperature distributions. Validation of the model

has been performed using non-invasive magnetic resonance

imaging (MRI) allowing for measuring temperature distributions

during the running process in three dimensions.

2. Materials and methods

2.1. The microwave system

A microwave device has been developed together with

GIGATHERM AG (Grub, Switzerland), to fit into a Avance

200 SWB tomograph (maximum sample diameter of 64 mm,

magnetic flux density of 4.7 T; Bruker Biospin MRI GmbH,

Ettlingen, Germany). The design avoids temperature equalisation

between microwave heating and measuring temperature distribu-

tion by introducing microwave power directly into the magnet,

where the sample to be heated is located (sketch see Fig. 1(a)).

The system consists of a microwave generator with a working

frequency of 2450 MHz, a rectangular waveguide transmitting the

microwaves to the circular waveguide which then directs them

into the magnet of the tomograph. For a detailed description of the

system the authors refer to Knoerzer (2006).

This device together with the MRI tomograph allowed for

measuring three-dimensional temperature distributions during

microwave heating in real time.

2.2. The model

2.2.1. Geometry

The geometry of the model microwave cavity is depicted in

Fig. 1(b). The model has been designed in full 3D in order to be

a good approximation of the microwave chamber (h=300 mm,

d=84 mm).

Samples used were predominantly simple shapes (cylinders,

spheres) of a model food with known temperature dependent

thermo-physical properties (Knoerzer, Regier, Erle, & Schubert,

2004). However, a method was developed to allow the intro-

duction of models of real food structures based on a 3D spin-

density measurement technique (Knoerzer, 2006) as shown in

Fig. 2 and described in the section “Computational methods”.

2.2.2. Governing equations

As mentioned in the Introduction, microwaves, being electro-

magnetic waves, are described by Maxwell's Eqs. (3)–(6):

jd

Y

D ¼ q ð3Þ

jd

Y

B ¼ 0 ð4Þ

jÂ

Y

E ¼ À

A

Y

B

At

ð5Þ

jÂ

Y

H ¼

Y

j þ

A

Y

D

At

: ð6Þ

Fig. 1. Sketch of microwave device for introducing microwaves into MRI tomograph (a) and depiction of area of interest in the simulation process (b).

376 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

Maxwell's equations describe the coupled theory of the

former separately described electric and magnetic phenomena.

Eqs. (3) and (4) describe the source (ρ) of an electric field E

without a magnetic monopole as a source for the magnetic field

H. Eqs. (5) and (6) show the coupling between the electric and

magnetic fields.

The interaction of electromagnetism with matter is expressed

by the material equations or constitutive relations Eqs. (7)–(9),

where the permittivity or dielectric constant ε (the interaction of

non-conducting matter with an electric field), the conductivity σ

and the permeability μ (the interaction with a magnetic field)

appear to model their behaviour. The zero-indexed values describe

the behaviour in vacuum, so that ε and μ are relative values.

Y

D ¼ e

0

e

r

d

Y

E ð7Þ

Y

B ¼ A

0

A

r

d

Y

H ð8Þ

Y

j ¼ rd

Y

E: ð9Þ

In general, all these materials can be complex tensors (with

directional-dependent behaviour). In the case of food sub-

stances, some simplifications are possible: since food behaves

non-magnetically, the relative permeability can be set to μ=1

and the permittivity tensor can be reduced to a complex constant

with real (e′) and imaginary part (e″), which may include the

conductivity σ (Tang, 2005), as shown in Eq. (10).

eW

r

¼

r

2d kd f d e

0

ð10Þ

P

V

¼

P

V

¼ 2d kd f d e

0

d eW

r

d E

2

: ð11Þ

Eq. (11) describes the volumetrically dissipated power P

V

as

function of microwave frequency f, dielectric properties (ε

0

,ε″)

and the electric field E.

Knowing dissipated power P

V

as heat source Q

em

, Eq. (2)

can be modified to:

qC

p

AT

At

Àjd kd jT ð Þ ¼ P

V

: ð12Þ

Electromagnetism and heat transfer are thus coupled.

Fig. 2. The inner structure of the chicken wing as determined by MRI (middle: MRI raw data; corners: matrix subdivided into bones (a), fat (b), and meat (c)).

377 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

2.2.3. Process, initial and boundary conditions

2.2.3.1. Process conditions. In the uncontrolled microwave

heating simulation of model food cylinders, the microwave

power was set to constant values of P=19 W and P=23.1 W

between t =200 s and t =650 s and P=0 at all other times. In the

feedback-controlled simulation, the microwave power was set to

37 Was long as the temperature in the hottest spot was below the

predefined maximum temperature 343 K and set to P=0 when

this temperature was exceeded. A stop condition was triggered

when the temperature in the coldest spot is equal or greater than

the predefined target temperature (333 K) for a certain time.

Fig. 3. Exemplary flowchart of the simulation (with QuickWave-3D™- and COMSOL Multiphysics™-solution): Microwave heating of a chicken wing. (a) Interface

(programmed in MATLAB 7.4™). (b) QuickWave-3D™ model. (c) COMSOL Multiphysics™ structure. (d) Solution of coupled EM-thermal solver. (For

interpretation of the coloured scales in this figure, the reader is referred to the online version of this article.)

378 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

2.2.3.2. Initial conditions. At the start of the process, both

sample and surrounding air are in thermal equilibrium at T

0

=

298 K. In the feedback-controlled simulation the initial tem-

perature of both sample and surrounding air was set to T

0

=295 K

for both the pure microwave heating process and the combined

microwave hot air heating process.

2.2.3.3. Boundary conditions. The boundary conditions for

the electromagnetic interaction with the surface of the sample

are described by reflection and transmission.

The boundary of the cavity is assumed to be a perfect

conductor and thus:

E Ân ¼ 0 and Hd n ¼ 0;

where n is the normal to the surface:

ð13Þ

The boundary conditions at an interface between two

dielectric materials are:

E

2

ÀE

1

ð Þ Ân ¼ 0 ð14Þ

e

2

E

2

Àe

1

E

1

ð Þd n ¼ 0 ð15Þ

H

2

ÀH

1

ð Þ Ân ¼ 0 ð16Þ

A

2

H

2

ÀA

1

H

1

ð Þd n ¼ 0: ð17Þ

A heat transfer based on free convection on the boundary of

the heated object (∂V) was modelled for thermal interactions.

Àk

AT

An

þhd T ÀT

a

ð Þ ¼ 0 on AV: ð18Þ

The heat transfer coefficient was calculated taking thermal

conductivity of the surrounding medium and shape of the

sample into consideration (VDI Wärmeatlas, 2002).

A good approximation for the heat transfer coefficient was

found to be:

h ¼

k

air

P

r

ð19Þ

with the thermal conductivity of the surrounding air (λ

air

) and an

average radius of the sample with H/D (height to diameter ratio)

between 0.7 and 1.3.

2.2.4. Material properties

The thermo-physical properties, loss factor ε″, permittivity

ε′, thermal conductivity λ, density ρ, heat capacity C

P

and

their variation with water content and temperature were deter-

mined experimentally for a model food, developed for micro-

wave heating research, and fitted with third order polynomials

(Knoerzer et al., 2004). These equations were implemented in

the subdomain settings of the software packages used.

In the case of the chicken wing heating, thermo-physical

properties of fat, meat and bone material have been taken from

literature.

2.2.5. Computational methods

The partial differential equations describing the electromag-

netic part of the model were solved with the finite difference

time domain method (FDTD) using QuickWave-3D™(QWED

Sp. z o.o., Warsaw, Poland), a commercial software package.

The finite element method was chosen for the heat transport part

and solved using COMSOL Multiphysics™ (COMSOL AB,

Stockholm, Sweden) a second commercial software package.

The interface between both software packages was programmed

as a graphical user interface (GUI) in MATLAB 7.4™

(Mathworks, Natick, MA, USA). The cross-software commu-

nication was enabled by transforming the different output

formats into a universal format (flowchart see Fig. 3).

The presented approach describes a one-way simulation, i.e.

after calculating the dissipated power P

V

by QuickWave-3D™

with constant dielectric properties at a given initial temperature,

the heat transfer is calculated with temperature and/or location

dependent properties. In the heat transfer balance calculations,

P

V

(from QuickWave-3D) is used as a source term, interpolated

to describe the power density as a function f (x,y,z). Following

Eq. (11), P

V

is directly proportional to the loss factor (P

V

∝ε″)

and thus a modified form can be used in order to take the

dependency of the loss factor and thus the dissipated power into

consideration.

P

V

T; x; y; z ð Þ ¼ P

V;QuickWaveÀ3D

x; y; z ð Þd

eW T; x; y; z ð Þ

eW

initial

ð20Þ

where P

V,QuickWave-3D

is the solution of the EM simulation, ε″

initial

the initial loss factor of the sample, ε″(T,x,z,y) the recalculated

loss factor taking different temperatures at different locations in

the sample into account.

Fig. 4. Visual comparison between the simulated (left) and the measured (right)

heating of a model food cylinder (at a discrete time). (For interpretation of the

coloured scales in this figure, the reader is referred to the online versionof this article.)

Fig. 5. Visual comparison between the simulated (left) and the measured (right)

heating of the center cross-section (h=16 mm) of the microwave heated model

food cylinder (at a discrete time). (For interpretation of the coloured scales in this

figure, the reader is referred to the online version of this article.)

379 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

The temperature dependence of the permittivity ε′ is neg-

lected in this approach. However, in food materials the change

in permittivity due to changes in temperature is far less pro-

nounced than the changes in loss factor.

A MATLAB 7.4™code was used to transform the structure

data of real foods as determined by MRI into the format read-

able by the simulation software packages and allocating the

corresponding material properties. In other words, different

materials yield different intensities in MRI spin-density

measurements. Thus it is possible by multi-threshold setting

to subdivide a full 3D MRI image (3D matrix) into different

matrices corresponding to the materials and allocate the

matching thermo-physical properties at the specific locations

to these materials.

A further code was developed in MATLAB 7.4™ to allow

for a feedback-controlled simulation. This code was able to

observe the hottest and coldest spots in the simulated heating

scenario and switching power off after a predefined maximum

temperature in the hot spot is reached (i.e. heat source is set to

zero) and turning it on (i.e. heat source=P

V

(T,x,y,z)) after falling

below that value according to the description in the “Process

conditions” subsection. The simulation was programmed to stop

after a predefined temperature in the coldest spot is reached and

held for a certain time.

In QuickWave-3D™ the computational domain was sub-

divided into cubic elements with 1 mm edge length (corre-

sponding to 1.5 million cells); in COMSOL Multiphysics™the

number of elements depended on the size of the sample and

varied between 9.000 and 20.000 tetrahedral elements.

Aworkstation with a dual-core processor (CPUspeed 2.6 GHz)

and RAMof 2 GBrunning a 32-bit Windows XP professional OS

was used, which allowed the simulation to be completed within

less than 2 h.

2.2.6. Model validation

Validation was performed by visually comparing simulated

and measured 3D temperature distributions results. Average

temperature profiles at measured points (hot and cold spots)

were compared with profiles provided by the model at the same

locations. A MATLAB routine was developed to plot averaged

measured temperatures within axial cross-sections at specific

points in time versus simulated ones. The routine was used to

perform a statistical analysis in order to calculate R

2

.

The sophisticated method of temperature mapping using

magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure temperatures

in three dimensions throughout the heated samples. Due to the

complexity of this approach and the space limitations, the reader is

Fig. 7. Comparison of heating curves in a hot and a cold spot in a microwave

heated cylindrical model food sample (microwave power P=19 W).

Fig. 8. Comparison of heating curves in a hot and a cold spot in a microwave

heated cylindrical model food sample (microwave power P=23.1 W).

Fig. 9. Confidence plot of simulated temperatures versus measured temperatures

of identical locations of the axial cross-section where the hottest spot is located.

(For interpretation of the coloured points, the reader is referred to the online

version of this article.)

Fig. 6. Visual comparison between the simulated (left) and the measured (right)

heating of a cross-section near the top (h=26 mm) of the microwave heated

model food cylinder (at a discrete time). (For interpretation of the coloured

scales in this figure, the reader is referred to the online version of this article.)

380 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

referred to Knoerzer et al. (2005a), Knoerzer, Regier, and Schubert

(2005b), and Knoerzer (2006) for a detailed description of this

measurement technique and the underlying physical principles.

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Comparison of simulated and measured heating profile of

a model food cylinder in real time

Simulated and measured temperature profiles throughout the

microwave treated samples are shown in three dimensions. In

this section simulation results will be compared to measure-

ments in order to validate the new simulation approach.

3.1.1. Visual comparison of 3D temperature distributions

Fig. 4 shows both simulated and measured 3D temperature

distributions in a microwave heated model food cylinder at a

discrete time of 250 s and a microwave power of 19 W.

Figs. 5 and 6 provide a close-up view of two cross-sections

of the cylinder one in the middle (h=16 mm) of the cylinder, the

second one near the top (h=26 mm).

A good qualitative agreement could be found between simu-

lation and measurement in all cases. Both simulation and measure-

ment show almost identical temperature distribution profiles.

3.1.2. Comparison of heating curves in discrete points

Figs. 7 and 8 showheating curves in a hot and a cold spot of the

heated model food cylinder at microwave powers of 19 and 23.1 W.

Good quantitative agreements were found in all cases.

3.1.3. Comparison of entire cross-sections

Fig. 9 shows a confidence plot of simulated versus measured

temperatures at different times of the heating process at identical

locations of a cross-section of the microwave treated sample. A

statistical analysis showed an R

2

greater than 0.95 which means

they are not significantly different.

3.2. Simulated heating of a chicken wing

The simulated heating of the chicken wing described in Section

2.2 and shown in Fig. 2 was performed at a microwave power of

25 W for 600 s. Fig. 10 shows the temperature distribution in the

chicken wing after heating. It is obvious that uncontrolled process

conditions lead to the development of unacceptably uneven tem-

perature distributions caused by a number of interacting factors as

described in detail in Ringle and Donaldson (1975), Sinell (1986),

Risman (1992), Buffler (1993), Ohlsson and Bengtsson (2001),

Ryynänen, Risman, and Ohlsson (2004), Wäppling-Raaholt and

Ohlsson (2005), and Knoerzer (2006).

3.3. Controlled microwave heating of a model food cylinder

In microwave heating simulation, temperature distributions

are clearly defined at any point in time. This fact allows a

feedback-control loop to be simulated on the basis of arising

temperatures to ensure uniform heating. In practice, such a

feedback-control loop is difficult to accomplish in a real life

industrial microwave process due to the necessity of measuring

3D temperature distributions in-line non-invasively.

Fig. 11 shows the heating curves for the hottest and the

coldest spot in a microwave heated cylindrical model food

Fig. 10. 3D temperature distribution in a chicken wing after microwave

treatment of 600 s (power was switched on after 200 s) as calculated using the

new simulation procedure. (For interpretation of the coloured scales in this

figure, the reader is referred to the online version of this article.)

Fig. 11. (a) Pure microwave heating (P=37 W; external temperature T

ext

=295 K). (b) Combined microwave hot air heating (P=37 W; T

ext

=333 K).

381 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

sample. The microwave power was set to P=37 W as long as

the temperature in the hot spot was below the maximum

temperature and to P=0 as soon as this temperature was

exceeded. The maximum temperature to be reached in the hot

spot was set to 343 K and the minimum temperature to be

reached and hold for 30 s was set to 333 K.

Fig. 11 (a) shows the example of a pure microwave heating,

i.e. the external temperature was set to the initial temperature of

the sample (T=295 K), Fig. 11(b) shows a combined

microwave hot air process, i.e. the external temperature was

set to the target temperature (T=333 K).

In the case of the pure microwave heating, the maximum

temperature was reached and regulated after about 200 s. How-

ever, the temperature in the coldest spot did not reach the target

temperature even after more than 20 min. The reason for this is the

heat loss from the heated sample to the cooler surrounding air.

When hot air is introduced in the combined process, the

temperature in the hot spot also reaches maximum temperature

after about 200 s. In this case, the temperature in the coldest spot

reached the target temperature after about 10 min. The

combined process allows a secure minimal time/temperature

treatment. The output of the feedback-controlled simulation is

shown in Fig. 12, a microwave power pulse program that can be

incorporated in the control unit of a microwave oven and thus

allows for repeating the simulated scenario in reality by

controlling (no feedback) the microwave power.

3.4. Discussion: implications for process design

The experimental data shows that it is possible to model the

temperature changes that occur as a result of a microwave

treatment. No previous publication shows a similar approach for

running a feedback-controlled simulation based on a combination

of software packages for electromagnetism and heat transfer

calculations. Furthermore, simulations of the microwave treat-

ment of real heterogeneous foods with structural data provided by

MRI spin-density measurements have not been published before.

4. Conclusions

Microwaves heat food volumetrically and more rapidly than

conventional heating. However, several factors associated with

volumetric heating may lead to the development of uneven

temperature distributions. A model has been developed to

accurately predict temperature profiles during a heating process

in a lab scale microwave system. Based on the fact that two

commercial software packages have been coupled in this

approach, a major benefit of this approach is the user-friendly

operation, full support by the software vendors and extensive

user manuals. The one-way coupling, enhanced by implemen-

tation of temperature dependent loss factor and thus dissipated

power is computationally convenient and very time efficient

compared to a two-way coupling.

The model simulates both electromagnetic waves and heat

transfer and thus the temperature evolution in arbitrarily shaped

foods. Good agreement between the model and actual

temperature measured in a series of experimental runs using

the sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging 3D temperature

mapping technique was obtained. Significant temperature

heterogeneities occurred as long as the treatment was uncon-

trolled while more uniformity was achieved when a control tool

was implemented in the simulation. This kind of feedback-

controlled simulation is one-of-a-kind to date and allows for

predicting optimal power programs, ensuring minimal time/

temperature treatments in microwave food processing. Models

of this type could be used both to design and optimise processes

and to demonstrate the safety of the process for industry and

regulatory bodies.

Notation

Latin letters

B

→

magnetic flux density [T=V·s/A·m]

C

P

specific heat capacity [J/kg·K]

D

→

electric flux density [A·s/m

2

]

E

→

, E electric field [V/m]

f frequency [s

−1

]

h, H height [mm]

h heat transfer coefficient [W/m

2

K]

H

→

, H magnetic field [A/m]

j

→

electric current density [A/m

2

]

n normal to the surface

P power [W]

P

V

power density [W/m

3

]

P

V,QuickWave-3D

power density calculated by QuickWave-3D™

[W/m

3

]

Q

em

electromagnetic heat source [J/s m

3

]

q

R

radiative power flux density [W/m

3

s]

r radius [m]

R

2

coefficient of determination [–]

T absolute temperature [K]

t time [s]

V volume [m

3

]

x,y,z coordinates

Greek letters

ε

0

dielectric constant of vacuum(=8.854· 10

−12

As/Vm)

ε

r

relative permittivity [–]

ε complex dielectric constant [–]

Fig. 12. Output of the on/off-control tool; microwave power pulse program

(example of combined microwave hot air heating as described above).

382 K. Knoerzer et al. / Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 9 (2008) 374–384

ε

r

″ real part of complex permittivity [–]

λ thermal conductivity [W/m·K]

μ

0

permeability of vacuum(=1/ ε

0

c

0

2

=1.257· 10

−6

Vs/Am)

μ

r

relative magnetic permeability [–]

μ magnetic permeability [–]

π Ludolph's number (≈3.14159)

ρ charge density [A·s/m

3

]

ρ density [kg/m

3

]

σ conductivity [A/V m]

Operators

∂ partial differential

▿ Nabla operator

∑ sum

Δ difference

▿· divergence

▿× rotation

Abbreviations

3D three-dimensional

BEM boundary element method

EM electromagnetic

FDM finite difference method

FDTD finite difference time domain

FEM finite element method

GUI graphical user interface

MOM method of moments

MRI magnetic resonance imaging

TLM transmission line matrix

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to thank the German Research

Foundation (DFG) for financial support in the NMR research

group FOR338.

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