Microwave Ovens

The microwave oven is a complicated and potentially dangerous appliance but thanks to many built in safety features such as fuses, interlocks and thermal protectors most people never have a problem.

Microwaves Have Two Major Sections:

y The Control Section y The High Voltage Section

The Control Section
y Fuses y Interlocks y Thermal protector y Timer

A problem with any of these components will prevent the oven from turning on.

Fuses
Fuses are devices that melt when too much current flows. Too much current flows when there is a short circuit or other malfunction. The blown fuse interrupts the circuit in which it is connected stopping further damage.

Interlocks
Interlocks are switches used to prevent the oven from running when the door is open.

Thermal Protector
A thermal protector or thermal cutoff is like a fuse, but excessive heat within the oven rather than excessive current breaks the circuit to protect the oven and the user!

Should my soufflé blow the oven door off?

The Timer
Setting the oven timer and starting a cook operation activates an electronic switch called a TRIAC.

The TRIAC
The TRIAC sends voltage to the high-voltage transformer.

The High-Voltage Section

DANGER!

High-Voltage Section
y The TRIAC in conjunction with the High Voltage

transformer increases the household voltage of 115 volts to the shockingly high amount of 3,000 volts!
y The Magnetron Tube converts the high voltage

into undulating waves of electromagnetic energy.

High-Voltage Section
High voltage electromagnetic energy radiates from the magnetron like radio waves from antennas.

The Waveguide
A waveguide feeds the microwaves into the cooking area where it encounters the slowly revolving stirrer blades.

Stirrer Blade and Turntable
The Stirrer Blades and Turntable ensures the microwaves are evenly distributed to the food to prevent cold spots or uncooked areas.

Magnet Refresher!
y Like poles repel. y Opposite poles attract.

How Microwaves Cook Food
y The magnetron produces electromagnetic waves that change

from positive to negative voltage at 2.5 GHz or 2.5 billion times per second. magnet. magnet.

y When the wave is positive it behaves like the SOUTH pole of a y When the wave is negative it behaves like the North pole of a

MICRO Waves
Magnetic South +1,500 Volts

-1,500 Volts Magnetic North The higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength. The high frequency waves from the magnetron are very short so are called MICRO waves.

How Microwaves Cook Food.

y As the microwave changes from North to South the food molecules

change from South to North because opposite poles attract and like poles repel just like magnets.

y The rapidly rotating food molecules cause friction

creating the heat needed for cooking.

Cooking the food.
The Microwave

The wave is switching poles causing the molecules in the food to switch or rotate

Rapidly Rotating Molecules

Which way do I go!?

Causes Friction

Whew! I m getting warm!

Producing Heat

OK, now I¶m really HOT!

Why do some foods cook better?
y Whether a food is suitable for microwave cooking has

to do with the structure of the food.
y Foods like bread have an internal structure that break

down during cooking and become tough if cooked too long.

Why do some foods cook better?
y Foods with high water content do not have delicate

structures to damage and cook nicely in the microwave.

y Soups, meats, vegetables and popcorn are examples of

foods well suited for microwaves.

Why doesn t the oven get hot?
y Conventional ovens heat up and the food within them cooks

because the surrounding air is hot.

y Microwaves do not cook using hot air. They bombard the food

with microwaves that cause the food molecules to heat the food.

Microwave ovens stay cool.

Conventional Oven's

Heat up everything

Microwave Oven s Just Heat up the Food

Metal in Microwave
Microwaves electrically charge the air between a metallic object and the metal contained in the oven walls. This ionized air produces an electric current like a small bolt of lightning that can spark and damage the microwave or start a fire.

Metal in Microwave
Sparking in the microwave is more likely when metal with sharp edges, such as forks or crinkled aluminum foil, is left inside. The arcing effect can actually melt or burn thin metal layers like those found in mugs or plates with metal trim.

Other Microwave Dangers

Boiling Water in the Microwave

You might have heard of microwave boiled water 'bursting' in the face and causing serious injury. Such accidents are not uncommon.

Why Water Can EXPLODE!
Unlike water heated on a stove, a microwave heats the water so fast the formation of vapor bubbles is unable to keep pace with the rapid increase in temperature.

Boiling Water in the Microwave
The heat normally released by the bubbles is retained in the water.

Boiling Water in the Microwave
When the container holding the super hot water is removed the slightest jerk or movement causes rapid formation of the unreleased vapor bubbles.

Boiling Water in the Microwave
The trapped heat to suddenly EXPLODES in an eruption of bubbles that sprays the water in all directions.

Boiling Water Safely
Water 'bursting' is not an everyday occurrence but the danger always exists. If you boil water in a microwave a few simple measures could prevent a nasty accident.

Boiling Water Safely
y Always use a container that is microwave-able. y Never go beyond suggested heating time recommended in the oven s user manual. y Put a small wooden mixing spoon into the water before heating this will allow vapor bubbles to form on the uneven surface of the spoon and release.

Boiling Water Safely
y After heating let the water stand in the oven for a

minute or two .
y Don t move the water or put anything into it. y Remove the water, do not hold it near your face or

body.

Microwaves cook Faster

Sources
y http://home.howstuffworks.com/microwave.htm y http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/microwaves/in

dex.html

y http://www.gallawa.com/microtech/how_work.html

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