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microwave food applications
, Marc Regier
, Helmar Schubert
Innovative Foods Centre, Food Science Australia, Private Bag 16, Werribee, VIC, Australia
Universität Karlsruhe (TH), Institute of Engineering in Life Sciences, Dept. I: Food Process Engineering, Karlsruhe, Germany
Received 21 August 2007; accepted 21 October 2007
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.
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
Corresponding author. Innovative Foods Centre, Food Science Australia,
Private Bag 16, Werribee, VIC, Australia.
E-mail address: email@example.com (K. Knoerzer).
1466-8564/$ - see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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:
Àjd kd jT ð Þ ¼ Àjq
where ρ is the density, C
the specific heat capacity, λ the
thermal conductivity of the materials used in the scenario, q
the radiative power flux density and Q
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:
Àjd kd jT ð Þ ¼ Q
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
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
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,
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):
D ¼ q ð3Þ
B ¼ 0 ð4Þ
E ¼ À
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
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.
D ¼ e
B ¼ A
j ¼ rd
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).
2d kd f d e
¼ 2d kd f d e
Eq. (11) describes the volumetrically dissipated power P
function of microwave frequency f, dielectric properties (ε
and the electric field E.
Knowing dissipated power P
as heat source Q
, Eq. (2)
can be modified to:
Àjd kd jT ð Þ ¼ P
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
22.214.171.124. 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
126.96.36.199. Initial conditions. At the start of the process, both
sample and surrounding air are in thermal equilibrium at T
298 K. In the feedback-controlled simulation the initial tem-
perature of both sample and surrounding air was set to T
for both the pure microwave heating process and the combined
microwave hot air heating process.
188.8.131.52. 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:
The boundary conditions at an interface between two
dielectric materials are:
ð Þ Ân ¼ 0 ð14Þ
ð Þd n ¼ 0 ð15Þ
ð Þ Ân ¼ 0 ð16Þ
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.
þhd T ÀT
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:
with the thermal conductivity of the surrounding air (λ
) 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
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
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
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,
(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
is directly proportional to the loss factor (P
and thus a modified form can be used in order to take the
dependency of the loss factor and thus the dissipated power into
T; x; y; z ð Þ ¼ P
x; y; z ð Þd
eW T; x; y; z ð Þ
is the solution of the EM simulation, ε″
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
(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
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
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
=295 K). (b) Combined microwave hot air heating (P=37 W; T
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.
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
magnetic flux density [T=V·s/A·m]
specific heat capacity [J/kg·K]
electric flux density [A·s/m
, E electric field [V/m]
f frequency [s
h, H height [mm]
h heat transfer coefficient [W/m
, H magnetic field [A/m]
electric current density [A/m
n normal to the surface
P power [W]
power density [W/m
power density calculated by QuickWave-3D™
electromagnetic heat source [J/s m
radiative power flux density [W/m
r radius [m]
coefficient of determination [–]
T absolute temperature [K]
t time [s]
V volume [m
dielectric constant of vacuum(=8.854· 10
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
″ real part of complex permittivity [–]
λ thermal conductivity [W/m·K]
permeability of vacuum(=1/ ε
relative magnetic permeability [–]
μ magnetic permeability [–]
π Ludolph's number (≈3.14159)
ρ charge density [A·s/m
ρ density [kg/m
σ conductivity [A/V m]
∂ partial differential
▿ Nabla operator
BEM boundary element method
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
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