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CHAPTER I

MICROWAVE HEATING IN FOOD PROCESSING

Juming Tang, Feng Hao * and Ming Lau

Department of Biological Systems Engineering Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164-6120, USA

INTRODUCTION

Microwave heating takes place due to the polarization effect of electromagnetic radiation at frequencies between 300 MHz and 300 GHz (Decareau, 1985). Started as a by-product of the radar technology developed during World War II, microwave heating is now used in about 92% of homes in the US (Giese, 1992). Microwave heating has also found applications in the food industry, including tempering of frozen foods for further processing, pre-cooking of bacon for institutional use, and final drying of pasta products. In those applications, microwave heating demonstrates significant advantages over conventional methods in reducing process time and improving food quality. But in general, applications of microwave heating in industrial food processing are much less common than home applications. Reasons for this difference include a lack of basic information on the dielectric properties of foods and their relationship to microwave heating characteristics and the historically high cost of equipment and electricity. The food processing industry has been reluctant to make expensive investments in a technology that has not been proven thoroughly reliable in large-scale or long-term use (Mudgett, 1989). Now, with the development of more reliable magnetrons and the invention of ferrite circulators to protect generating tubes, microwave equipment has a longer operating life. The cost for microwave equipment has been steadily reduced over the years

* Current address: Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, USA.

Current address: Technical Center of Kraft Foods, Glenview Il., USA.

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

and is now comparable to that for conventional heating methods. The future

of microwave heating in food processing applications is promising, but successful exploration of microwave heating applications relies on a thorough understanding of the interaction between microwaves and foods, and on the ability to predict and provide a desired heating pattern in foods for specific applications. Microwave heating in foods is a complicated physical process which depends upon the propagation of microwaves governed by Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetic waves, on the interactions between microwaves and foods determined by dielectric properties, and on heat dissipation governed by basic heat and mass transfer theories. This chapter will provide a general review and discussion on the interactions between microwaves and food materials and give

a brief introduction of the current commercial applications of microwave heating

in food processing. It will also describe some recent research results on microwave

drying, pasteurization, and sterilization at Washington State University.

MECHANISMS OF MICROWAVE HEATING

Food materials are, in general, poor electric insulators. They have the ability to store and dissipate electric energy when subjected to an electromagnetic field. Dielectric properties play a critical role in determining the interaction between the electric field and the foods (Buffler, 1993). The dielectric properties of a material are given by:

=

'

j

"= |

|

e

j

(1)

where = the complex relative dielectric constant ' = the relative dielectric constant " = the relative dielectric loss factor

= dielectric loss angle (tan =

j =

1
1

" /

')

' is related to the material’s ability to store electric energy (for vacuum ' = 1), while " indicates dissipation of electric energy due to various mechanisms. The magnetic permeability for most biological materials is the same as that of free space ( o = 4 10 7 W/Am). Therefore, those materials do not interact with the magnetic field component of electromagnetic waves. Magnetic materials such as ferrite, often used in susceptors and browning dishes, however, interact with the magnetic field, which results in substantial heating (Buffler, 1993). Conversion of the electric component of microwaves into thermal energy in

a lossy material (Goldblith, 1967) can be calculated by:

Pv = 5.56 10

11

f

"E

2

(2)

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

3

where P v = the power conversion per unit volume (W/m 3 ) f = frequency (Hz) " = relative dielectric loss factor E = electric field (V/m)

In theory, electric conduction and various polarization mechanisms (including dipole, electronic, atomic and Maxwell-Wagner) all contribute to the dielectric loss factor (Metaxas and Meredith, 1993; Kuang and Nelson, 1998). But in the microwave frequency range of practical importance to food applications (e.g. 2450 MHz and 915 MHz in North America), conduction and dipole rotation are the dominant loss mechanisms (Fig. 1). That is:

"=

" +

d

"

=

" +

d

o

(3)

where subscribes “d”and“ ” stand for contribution due to dipole rotation and due to ionic conduction, respectively; represents angular frequency of the microwaves, and o is the permittivity of free space (8.85 10 12 F/m). In the frequency range between 1 kHz to 100 MHz, Maxwell-Wagner 1 polarization plays a very important role, but it is usually not considered in microwave heating.

Log (ε )

Contribution by Contribution by ionic conduction ionic conductio Effect of increasing temperature Free water
Contribution by
Contribution by
ionic conduction
ionic conductio
Effect of increasing
temperature
Free water
relaxation
Maxwell-Wagner
Bound water
Effect of increasing
temperature
effect
relaxation
0.1 100
20,000 MHz

Log ( f )

Fig. 1 Contributions of various mechanisms to the loss factor of moisture materials as a function of frequency and temperature (based on Roebuck and Goldblith, 1972; Harvey and Hoekstra, 1972; Metaxas and Meredith, 1993; Kuang and Nelson, 1998).

1 Maxwell-Wagner polarization arises from charge build-up in interface between components in heterogeneous systems (Metaxas and Meredith, 1993). It peaks at about 100 kHz at room temperature of 20C.

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

FACTORS AFFECTING DIELECTRIC PROPERTIES OF FOODS

Dielectric properties of food materials are affected by many factors, including frequency of the microwaves, food temperature, moisture content, salt content, and other constituents.

Effects of Frequency and Temperature

In a food system, the change of dielectric properties with respect to temperature depends upon frequency, bound water to free water ratio, ionic conductivity, and composition of the material. For example, at microwave frequencies used by the food industry, both the dielectric constants and the loss factor due to polarization of bound water in foods would increase with temperature. On the other hand, these two properties of free water would decrease when temperature increases (Calay et al., 1995). An important concept in understanding how frequency and temperature affect dielectric properties due to dipole

in Eq. (3), is the relaxation time . It is defined as the time required

rotation,

for preferentially oriented molecules, under a static external electric field, to relax back to 1/e (or 36.8%) of the original condition on sudden removal of

the external field. In general, the larger the molecules, the longer the relaxation

time. For a pure liquid, such as water, the dielectric loss factor

"

d

"

d

reaches the

maximum at the relaxation frequency ( = ) . The relaxation time of free

c

2

f

1

water at 20°C was measured to be between 0.0071 to 0.00148 ns, which

at around 16 GHz (Mashimo et al., 1997). Water

molecules are polar and are the most important constituent that contributes to

the dielectric properties of moist foods. Water molecules bound to the surface of food solids in mono- or multi-layers have much longer relaxation times than free water molecules. For example, the relaxation time of bound water in different food materials at 20°C was determined to be between 0.98 ns to

2.00 ns, which corresponds to a peak in

of monolayer bound water in lysozyme peaked

for the second layer bound water peaked at

at about 100 MHz. Harvey and

corresponds to a peak in

"

d

"

d

Hoekstra (1972) found that at 200 MHz (2 10 8 Hz) and

"

d

"

d

about 10 GHz (10 10 Hz) (Figs. 2 and 3). Debye related the relaxation time for the spherical molecule to viscosity and temperature as a result of randomized agitation of the Brownian movement (von Hippel, 1954):

=

V 3

v

kT

(4)

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

5

Microwave Heating in Food Processing 5 Fig. 2 Dielectric constant ( ' ) and loss factor
Microwave Heating in Food Processing 5 Fig. 2 Dielectric constant ( ' ) and loss factor

Fig. 2 Dielectric constant ( ') and loss factor ( ") as a function of frequency for packed lysozyme samples containing slightly more than one monolayer of bound water at 25°C (Harvey and Hoekstra,

1972).

of bound water at 25°C (Harvey and Hoekstra, 1972). Fig. 3 Dielectric constant ( ' )

Fig. 3 Dielectric constant ( ') and loss factor ( ") as a function of frequency for packed lysozyme samples containing nearly two layers of bound water at 25°C (Harvey and Hoekstra, 1972). The two dispersions correspond to the first and second layers of bound water, respectively.

where v is viscosity, T is absolute temperature, V is volume of the sphere, and k is a constant. For non-spherical water molecules, we may have the following relation:

µ

v

T

(5)

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

6 J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau Fig. 4 Effect of temperature on dielectric behavior

Fig. 4 Effect of temperature on dielectric behavior of free water ( = 2 f, f is frequency in Hz) (from Mudgett, 1985).

while the viscosity of all fluid decreases with increasing temperature (Macosko,

1994):

v = v e

o

Ea

RT

(6)

where E a is activation energy and R is the universal gas constant. Therefore, as temperature rises, relaxation time for water decreases. The shifting of the relaxation time toward a smaller value (thus the frequency at the

shifts toward a larger value as temperature increases) reduces the

maximum

value of

the relaxation time decreases with increasing temperature, the dispersion peak

moves to higher frequencies, and the loss factor of pure water at 2450 MHz (2.45 10 9 Hz) decreases with increasing temperature. The dielectric constant ' of free water also decreases with increasing temperature as the result of increased Brownian movement.

d for water at a fixed microwave frequency (Fig. 4). For example, as

"

"

d

The dielectric loss factor

"

due to ionic conduction decreases with

to the over-

all loss factors is smaller at 2450 MHz (2.45 10 9 Hz) than at 915 MHz (0.915 10 9 Hz) (Fig. 5).

increasing frequency as shown in Eq. (3). The contribution of "

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

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d
d

Fig. 5 Effect of temperature on dielectric properties of 0.5 N aqueous sodium chloride at three temperatures (from Roebuck and Goldblith, 1972).

80 60 40 20 915 MHz 2450 MHz 0 0 20 40 60 Dielectric constant
80
60
40
20
915 MHz
2450 MHz
0
0
20
40
60
Dielectric constant

Temperature, C

80 915 MHz 60 2450 Mhz 40 20 0 0 20 40 60 Loss factor
80
915 MHz
60
2450 Mhz
40
20
0
0
20
40
60
Loss factor

Temperature, C

Fig. 6 Effect of temperature and frequency on dielectric properties of cottage cheese (11% protein, 4% lactose, 2% fat and 0.5% NaCl) (Herve et al., 1998).

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Table 1 Dielectric properties of water and ice at 2450 MHz (Schiffmann, 1986)

State of water

Relative dielectric constant ( ')

Loss factor ( " )

Loss tangent (tan )

Water (25°C)

78

12.5

0.16

Ice

3.2

0.0029

0.0009

The electric conductivity in ionic solutions increases with temperature due

to decreased viscosity and hence increased mobility of the ions (Trump, 1954).

also increases with temperature (Fig. 5). For

example, at 915 MHz the dielectric constant of ionic solutions generally increases

with temperature. Figure 6 shows the effect of frequency and temperature on the dielectric constant, ', and loss factor, " , of cottage cheese with about 0.5% NaCl. Ice is almost transparent to microwaves (Table 1). When a food is frozen, both dielectric constant and loss factor are significantly reduced, the degree of reduction depends, to a large extent, upon the amount of water in the unfrozen state and the ionic conductivity of the free water. Figures 7 and 8 show the effect of temperature on the dielectric properties of different foods at 2450 MHz (Bengtsson and Risman, 1971). The high salt content in cooked ham makes the dielectric properties of this product quite different from those of the rest of the materials in the graphs. Due to ionic polarization, both dielectric constant and loss factors of cooked ham increase with temperature above the freezing point, which is contrary to the trend of dielectric properties of other foods in which loss mechanisms are mostly determined by the dipole polarization of free water. One advantage of the decreased loss factor with increasing temperature in low salt foods at microwave frequencies is the so-called temperature leveling effect. That is, when a certain portion of a food is overheated, the loss factor of that part is reduced, which results in less conversion of microwave energy to heat at that part of the food and helps to reduce non-uniform spatial temperature distribution. On the other hand, if the dielectric loss factor increases with increasing temperature, the foods would experience a phenomenon called thermal runaway. For example, when thawing frozen foods at relatively high microwave power levels, certain areas of the food are overheated while the other areas are still frozen. This is because faster thawing of a portion of food due to uneven heating dramatically increases the loss factor of that part of the food due to the high loss factor of free water (Figs. 7 and 8), which in turn increases microwave absorption, causing more uneven heating. In practice, a low microwave power level is often used in micro-wave thawing so that heat conduction can reduce

Therefore, based on Eq. (3), "

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

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Microwave Heating in Food Processing 9 Fig. 7 Dielectric constant of selected foods as affected by

Fig. 7 Dielectric constant of selected foods as affected by temperature (from Bengtsson and Risman,

1971).

affected by temperature (from Bengtsson and Risman, 1971). Fig. 8 Dielectric loss factor of selected foods

Fig. 8 Dielectric loss factor of selected foods as affected by temperature (from Bengtsson and Risman,

1971).

non-uniform temperature distribution. In industrial tempering of large blocks of meat or fish (a process that brings deep frozen products from 30°C to a few degrees below freezing point for further processing), convective surface cooling at below freezing temperature is often used to prevent possible thermal runaway.

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Effect of Moisture Content

Due to the dipole nature of water molecules, food moisture content is an important determinant of the dielectric properties. In general, the higher the moisture content, the larger the dielectric constant and loss factor of the material. At temperatures above freezing, moisture exists in foods in one of the two forms free water and bound water. The free water components have dielectric properties similar to those of liquid water, while the bound water exhibits ice-like dielectric properties. Dielectric properties of foods, in general, decrease rapidly with decreasing moisture content to a critical moisture level. Below this moisture level, the reduction in loss factor is less significant due to the bound water (Fig. 9). During microwave drying, the wetter parts of foods absorb more microwave energy and tend to level off the uneven moisture distribution. The moisture leveling effect is less pronounced when the moisture content is below the critical moisture, as the reduction of loss factor with reducing moisture content is not as significant.

factor with reducing moisture content is not as significant. Fig. 9 Rate of evaporation and dielectric

Fig. 9 Rate of evaporation and dielectric loss factor as affected by food moisture content (Metaxas and Meredith, 1983).

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

11

Other Factors

Salting reduces free water and depresses the dielectric constant and the dipolar loss, while increasing the conductive loss (Calay et al., 1995). Sugar molecules are relatively large and non-polar. An increase in sugar content reduces the dielectric constant. Hydration of sugar in water solutions shifts relaxation time to lower frequencies, thus increasing the dielectric loss factor at microwave frequencies (Roebuck and Goldblith, 1972). Similarly, hydration of protein and starch in solutions made up of 50% solids reduces the dielectric constant and increases the dielectric loss factor (Roebuck and Goldblith, 1972).

Predictive Models

Values of dielectric constant and loss factor of dry food solids, fats and oils are small and are relatively independent of frequency and temperature.

Table 2 Dielectric properties of oil and solids (Kent, 1986)

F(Hz)

Products T(°C) 10 6 10 7 10 8 10 9 25 ' 2.85 2.62 "
Products
T(°C)
10 6
10 7
10 8
10 9
25
'
2.85
2.62
"
0.159
0.168
Soybean salad oil
49
'
2.88
2.71
"
0.138
0.174
82
'
2.86
2.72
"
0.092
0.140
25
'
2.83
2.64
Cotton oil
"
0.174
0.175
49
'
2.87
2.70
"
0.134
0.174
0
'
2.8
2.8
Flour
(mc = 3.2%)
"
0.184
0.184
40
'
3.5
2.7
"
0.196
0.235
70
'
4.0
3.2
"
0.160
0.275
0
'
2.1
1.9
Skimmed milk
"
0.038
0.040
powder
40
'
2.1
1.8
"
0.044
0.054
70
'
2.4
0.2
"
0.067
0.072

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

The dielectric properties of selected oils and low moisture solids are listed in Table 2. A food material of high moisture content can be considered a mixture of dielectrically active ionic solutions and dielectrically inert solids (Mudgett, 1985). The dielectric properties of two-phase mixtures of aqueous ions and colloid solids are related to the dielectric properties of each component and their volume fractions, shown in the following distributive model (Mudgett, 1985):

m

=

s

V

s

+

c

(1

V

s

)

(7)

where m = relative permittivity of the mixture, s = relative permittivity of the suspended solids, c = relative permittivity of the continuous aqueous phase, V s = volume fraction of the solids.

According to Mudgett et al. (1977), reasonable estimation of dielectric properties for various liquid and solid foods can be obtained from the above relation. However, Eq. (7) requires an estimation of the volume fraction of the solid or liquid phases, which is often difficult to obtain. Newer empirical models have been developed in which dielectric properties are related to the mass fraction of various components. For example, based on selected groups of data in the literature, Sun et al. (1995) developed the following empirical relationships to correlate the dielectric properties of a meat product to temperature, moisture content and ash content:

' = m

water

(1.0707

0.0018485

"

=

m

+

water

(3.4472

m

ash

( 57.093

0.01868

+

0.23109

T

T

)

+ m

ash

(4.7947)

+

T

0.000025

2

)

3.5985

T

2

+

)

8.5452

R =

R

=

0.97

0.99

(8)

(9)

Calay et al. (1995) also developed empirical polynomial correlation to relate dielectric properties to moisture content and temperature for selected foods. Due to the influences of two different loss mechanisms, and the effect of temperature and food composition, it is difficult to develop a general predictive equation that can accurately take into account the influence of various factors mentioned in the previous sections.

PENETRATION DEPTH OF MICROWAVES

When microwaves propagate through a lossy material, a fraction of microwave energy is converted into heat and the remaining power decreases with the

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

13

distance from the surface (Fig. 10). Lambert’s law describes microwave power reduction as a function of the distance that microwaves travel into a semi-infinite lossy body:

P ( z ) =

P

o

e 2

z

(10)

where P o is incident microwave power at the surface, P(z) is microwave power at distance z in the direction of microwave propagation within the lossy material, and is the attenuation constant. Attenuation factor can be calculated according to von Hippel (1954):

=

2 2 1 ' 1 + 1 2 " ' o
2
2
1
'
1
+
1
2
"
'
o

1

2

(11)

where o is the wavelength of microwaves in free space. For 2450 MHz microwaves, o = 12.24 cm, and for 915 MHz microwaves, o = 32.77 cm. Lambert’s law is applicable to a large body of lossy material where microwaves are largely attenuated with little reflection within the material at the opposite interface with the air. Ayappa et al. (1991) proved that for a sufficiently thick slab, Lambert’s law applies as long as the thickness of the slab satisfies the following condition:

L L

crit

=

5.4dp

0.08cm

(12)

where, dp is penetration depth of microwaves in food. When Eq. (12) is satisfied, the Lambert’s law results in less than 1% error as compared to more rigorous analysis with the Maxwell equations for plane waves. When the thickness of a slab is less than L crit , the interference between transmitted and reflected waves between the surfaces may create standing waves, causing internal hot and cold spots. As described by the Lambert’s law, microwave intensity reduces exponentially with the depth into a lossy material (Fig. 10). Penetration depth of microwave power is defined as the depth where the power is reduced to 1/e (e = 2.718) of the power entering the surface. That is:

P(

dp

) =

P

o

e

.

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Microwave

radiation

14 J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau Microwave radiation Food material Po Decay of microwave
Food material Po Decay of microwave power according to Lambert’s Law Po*1/e dp Depth into
Food material
Po
Decay of microwave power
according to Lambert’s Law
Po*1/e
dp
Depth into the material z, m

Fig. 10 Definition of penetration depth of microwave in a lossy material.

4.0 915 MHz 3.0 2450 MHz 2.0 1.0 0.0 0 20 40 60 Penetration depth,
4.0
915 MHz
3.0
2450 MHz
2.0
1.0
0.0
0
20
40
60
Penetration depth, cm

Temperature, C

Fig. 11 Effect of temperature on the penetration depth of 914 and 2450 MHz microwaves in cottage cheese (11% protein, 4% lactose, 2% fat and 0.5% NaCl) (Herve et al., 1998).

From Eq. (10), a relation can be derived for dp:

dp =

1

2

.

(13)

In general, 915 MHz microwaves have deeper penetration depth in foods than 2450 MHz, and the penetration depth of microwaves also varies with temperature (Fig. 11 and Table 3). The limited penetration depth of microwaves in foods often causes non-uniform heating.

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

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Table 3 Penetration depth (dp) of microwaves in selected foods (all data were measured in our laboratory, except for ham)

 

915 MHz

 

2450 MHz

 

Material

Temp

'

"

dp

'

"

dp

   
 

(C)

(mm)

(mm)

Water

Deionized

20

79.5

3.8

122.5

78.2

10.3

16.8

Ice

12

3.2

0.003

11620

+0.5% Salt

23

77.2

20.8

21.5

75.8

15.6

10.9

Ham*

25

61

96

5.1

60

42

3.8

50

50

140

3.7

53

55

2.9

Yogurt (pre-mixed) Apple (Red Delicious) Potato (raw) Asparagus Whey protein gel (20% solid) Corn oil

22

71

21

21.2

68

17.5

9.3

22

60

9.5

42.7

57

12

12.3

25

65.1

19.6

21.7

53.7

15.7

9.2

21

73.6

20.6

22.2

71.34

16

10.4

22

50.9

17.0

22.4

40.1

12.9

10.6

25

2.6

0.18

481.1

2.5

0.14

216.7

* From Mudgett (1986).

ENERGY COUPLING

The intrinsic impedance in a material is defined as (Sadiku, 1995):

o = o
o
=
o
/ ) o o
/
)
o
o
 

=

where is a complex quality,

o

(

=

(14)

is the intrinsic impedance of

free space, o (= 4 10 7 H/m) is the permeability of free space, and o (= 8.854 10 12 F/m) is the permittivity of free space); o is about 377 .

For example, water at 25°C has an intrinsic impedance of about 43 , and ice has a value of about 210 at 2450 MHz. The difference between the intrinsic impedance of two media causes mismatch. This would lead to two consequences: 1) the microwaves will change their direction of propagation once entering a new material, and 2) a portion of microwave power will be reflected at the interface. Snell’s Law of Refraction describes the refraction for transmitted waves (Mudgett, 1985):

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Incident φ φ waves, P P i i Reflected waves, P waves, P r (=
Incident
φ
φ
waves, P
P
i
i
Reflected
waves, P
waves, P
r
(=
(=
Γ ∗
*P , where 0<
Γ<1
1)
r
i
η ο
η)
Refracted
waves
ψ

Fig. 12 Reflection and refraction of microwaves at the interface between air and a food material.

where

sin

=

sin

o

(15)

is the angle of refraction and is the angle of incidence (Fig. 12).

The reflected power ratio at a food surface can be calculated as (Mudgett,

1985):

cos cos o = . cos + cos o
cos
cos
o
=
.
cos
+
cos
o

(16)

Thus, if the differences between the intrinsic impedance of the foods and free space in the microwave cavity are very large, then standing waves are predominant in the unoccupied space. For small impedance differences, the unoccupied space is mostly traveling waves (Mudgett, 1986). The results in Table 4 were obtained from Eqs. (15) and (16) as an example to show the percent of microwave power reflected over the surface of ice or water at 2450 MHz. The intrinsic impedance for ice and water were calculated from dielectric properties in Table 3 and Eq. (14).

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

17

Table 4 Refraction angle and percent power reflection at a flat interface between air and ice or water as function of incident angle

Material

Intrinsic

Incident

Refracted angle [by Eq. (15)]

Reflected power in % [by Eq. (16)]

impedance

angle

Ice

210

0

0

8%

 

30

16.17

11%

90

33.85

100%

Water

43

0

0

63%

(at 25C)

30

3.27

67%

90

6.55

100%

Reflected

waves, waves, P P r (= (= Γ ∗ *P i , where r Incident
waves,
waves, P
P
r
(=
(=
Γ
*P i ,
where
r
Incident
waves, P
waves,
P
i
i
φ
φ
η ο
ε
ψ <

0<

Γ<1

< 1)

Fig. 13 Fraction of microwaves at a convex food surface (adapted from Buffler and Stanford, 1991).

Because of the refraction, microwaves entering spherical and cylindrical foods are directed towards the center. Buffler (1993) estimated that when ' > 40, which is the case for most moist foods, all incident microwaves are refracted to within an angle of 9 o of the internal normal and travel towards the center of the spheres (Fig. 13). For relatively small-sized foods, e.g. when the sphere diameter is less than 2.5 to three times the microwave penetration depth (dp), this would cause central heating (Lu et al., 1998).

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J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Coupling of microwaves and foods in a cavity depends upon the dielectric properties and total volume of the food in the cavity. The actual microwave power absorbed by the food P o is related to matched power P m and the volume of the food V by the following empirical relation (Mudgett, 1985):

P

o

=

P

m

(1

e

bV

)

(17)

where b depends upon the geometry and dielectric properties of foods, and operating characteristics of the microwave heating equipment. As discussed above, the interactions between foods and microwave energy are complicated. Microwave heating in foods also depends upon microwave field distribution and heat and mass transfer. Computer simulation, based on various numerical schemes (i.e. finite element, finite difference and time-domain, and method of moments), has become a powerful tool to study heating pattern in foods when subjected to microwave radiation (Sundberg et al., 1998; Soriano et al., 1998; Van Remmen et al., 1996; Lin et al., 1995). Commercial packages that run on inexpensive PCs to study microwave fields in loaded microwave applicators are on the market at affordable prices (e.g. Quick Wave-3D, QWED lnc., Warsaw, Poland). Those packages will greatly facilitate microwave research.

MEASUREMENT OF DIELECTRIC PROPERTIES

As discussed in the previous sections, dielectric properties of food materials influence the penetration depth of microwaves and energy coupling of food materials in microwaves. Therefore, studying the microwave heating characteristics requires accurate measurement of the dielectric properties for food materials. Several methods have been developed to measure dielectric properties in the microwave frequency range. The following three methods are commonly used for food materials (Engelder and Buffler, 1991). Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Open-End Coaxial Probe System

This system is commercially available from Agilent Technologies (Englandwood, CO). During the measurement, a coaxial probe with an open end (HP 85070B) is pressed against the sample material (Fig. 14). The microwave signal launched by a vector network analyzer (HP 8752C, 8753, 8720 or 8510 network analyzer) is reflected by the sample. The magnitude and phase shift of the reflected waves depend upon the dielectric properties of the

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

19

Microwave Heating in Food Processing 19 Fig. 14 Hewlett Packard (HP) open-ended coaxial probe dielectric property

Fig. 14 Hewlett Packard (HP) open-ended coaxial probe dielectric property measurement system.

tested material. The analyzer receives the reflected waves, and the dielectric constant and loss factor are then calculated. A major advantage of this method is that it is easy to use and well suited for liquids or soft solid food materials. The dielectric properties of the material can be measured over a large range of frequencies (from 0.2 to up to 20 GHz). The measurement requires little sample preparation; the system is interfaced with a personal computer. A sample measurement can be completed within a few minutes. This method is most commonly used by the food research community (Seaman and Seals, 1991; Nelson et al., 1993; Herve et al., 1998). The accuracy (± 5% in best cases) of the measurement by open-end coaxial probe system is adequate for most microwave heating research. The sample thickness needs, however, to be greater than 1 cm for typical foods and the solids must have a flat surface to allow good contact between the solid and the probe surface. This method is also not suitable for measuring materials such as plastics and oil with low dielectric property.

Transmission Line Method

With the transmission line method, a sample is precisely shaped to completely fill the cross-section of a transmission line (a coaxial or a rectangular wave guide) (Goedeken et al., 1997). The change of the impedance and propagation characteristics as a result of the sample in the loaded transmission line is measured by a vector network analyzer. A personal computer interfaced with the network analyzer calculates and displays the measured value of dielectric constant and loss factor. The accuracy of this method is generally between that of the open-end coaxial probe method and that of the cavity resonance method. The transmission line method requires careful sample preparation (Fig. 15). In

20

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

20 J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau Fig. 15 Schematic diagram for HP transmission line

Fig. 15 Schematic diagram for HP transmission line method: a measurement system consists of a network analyzer, a coaxial or waveguide, a computer and software for data acquisition and conversion.

particular, the sample shape needs to precisely fit the cross-section of the transmission line for accurate measurement. Liquid foods are more difficult to measure with this method. Commercial systems are available from Agilent Technologies. These systems, however, need precision transmission line fixtures for narrow bands of frequencies (e.g. S-Band: 2.603.95 GHz; G-band: 43.955.85 GHz, etc.). In general, this system is more expensive for the same range of frequency than the open-end coaxial probe system, and the measurements are more difficult and time-consuming. This method also gives limited resolution when measuring low lossy foods such as oil.

Resonance Cavity Method

The resonance cavity method is based on the fact that cavities are high quality (high Q) resonance structures. A small sample material introduced inside a cavity shifts the center resonance frequency f c and alters the quality factor (Q) of the cavity (ASTM, 1971). These two parameters are measured by a network analyzer (Fig. 16). A special software calculates the dielectric properties of the material. Since the change of the f c is small, it is essential that the network analyzer has a resolution of 1 Hz. This method gives an overall accuracy of ± 23% (Ohlsson, 1989). The resonance cavity method is suited to measuring the dielectric properties of low lossy materials such as oil, paper, plastics, glass or wood. This method, however, requires precise sample shape. In addition, a resonance cavity provides dielectric properties only at a fixed frequency. The analysis may also be complex. Commercial systems from Hewlett-Packard are much more expensive than the open-end coaxial probe system.

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

21

Microwave Heating in Food Processing 21 Fig. 16 Schematic diagram for HP resonant cavity method: a

Fig. 16 Schematic diagram for HP resonant cavity method: a measurement system consists of a network analyzer, a cavity, a computer and software.

Dielectric properties of meats, dairy products, cereal, fresh fruits and vegetables have been compiled by several researchers (Bengtsson and Risman, 1971; Nelson, 1973; Kent, 1987; and Nelson and Kuang, 1997).

TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE MEASUREMENTS

Temperature and pressure measurements are often necessary in process control and validation in microwave heating research. Conventional temperature sensors based on thermoelectric effects (e.g. thermocouples, RTD and thermistors) and pressure sensors consisting of metal parts may distort the electromagnetic field in the vicinity of the probes and give erroneous readings. Fiber optic sensors, on the other hand, do not interact with electromagnetic energy, and are now commonly used in microwave research. The principles for the design of the sensors vary among manufacturers. The probe sizes of fiber optical sensors are generally small (e.g. as small as 1.0 mm in diameter, FISO Technologies Inc., Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada). Temperature fiber optic sensors provide comparable accuracy as thermocouples in a normal heating medium (Fig. 17). They generally have short response times (~1.5 s in water) and are particularly suited for relatively fast microwave heating. The new FISO pressure probes can provide 0.005 psi resolution and can be useful in studying internal vapor pressure generation during microwave drying. Fiber optic sensors were used very effectively in our laboratory to monitor temperature and pressure changes during microwave high temperature-short-time sterilization pilot-scale tests (Lau et al., 1998; Feng et al., 2001). Four companies in North America produced fiber optic sensors, but only two companies ceased operation over the past 3 years (Table 5), and

22

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

22 J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau Fig. 17 Photonetics fiber optic temperature and pressure

Fig. 17 Photonetics fiber optic temperature and pressure measurement system and probes (courtesy of FISO Technologies Inc.).

Table 5 Manufacturers of fiber optic sensors

Company name

Company address

Type of sensors

Photonetics, Inc.

200 Corporate Place-Suite 1A, Peabody, MA 01960-3840 (cease operation)

Temperature and pressure

Luxtron, Co.

2775

Northwestern Parkway,

Temperature

Santa Clara, CA 95051-0941

FISO Technologies

2014

Jean-Talon N. Suite 125

Temperature and pressure

Nortech Fibronic, Inc.

Saint-Foy (Quebec) QC, Canada G1N 4N6

240-500 St-Jean-Baptiste, Quebec, QC, Canada G2E 5R (ceased operation)

Temperature

the prices range from US$7000 to US$25 000, depending upon number of channels and sophistication of data acquisition.

COMMERCIAL APPLICATION OF MICROWAVE HEATING IN FOOD PROCESSING

Due to congested bands of microwave and radio frequencies (RF) already being used for communication purposes, only a limited number of bands are allocated (e.g. in the US by the Federal Communications Commissions or FCC) for industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) applications. Table 6 lists most important bands allocated for those purposes.

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

23

Table 6 Important RF and microwave frequency allocations for industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) use (Decareau, 1985; Metaxas and Meredith, 1993; Buffler, 1993)

Frequency

Frequency

Typical

Countries

(MHz)

tolerance

applications

(MHz)

RF

Frequencies

13.56

± Wood drying, curing of ceramic, final drying of bakery products, textile drying and curing, and bonding

0.067

Worldwide

27.12

± 0.160

Same as above

Worldwide

40.68

± 0.020

Same as above

Worldwide

Microwave

Frequencies

896

± Tempering of frozen products

10

Great Britain

915*

± Pre-cooking of bacon, tempering of frozen products

13

North and South America

2375

50

± Domestic microwave ovens

Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and former USSR

Worldwide, except where 2375 MHz is used.

2450

50

± Domestic microwave ovens, pre-cooking of bacon, pasteurization and sterilization of packaged foods

*A number of US manufacturers have had 915 MHz equipment accepted for use in Europe by keeping the interference emission below an acceptable level for the country of installation (Buffler, 1993; and, Gene Eves, Ferrite Components, Inc., Hudson, NH, personal communication, 1998).

The frequency bands centered at 13.56 MHz, 27.12 MHz, 40.68 MHz, 896 MHz, 915 MHz and 2450 MHz are most commonly used in ISM applications, and industrial equipment for those frequency bands is readily available from commercial suppliers. Other frequencies are also allocated for ISM use in various countries. For example, 42 MHz, 49 MHz, 56 MHz, 84 MHz and 168 MHz are permitted in Great Britain, and 433.92 MHz is allocated in Austria, Netherlands, Portugal, Germany and Switzerland (Metaxas and Meredith, 1993). The following table shows the frequencies, the power levels, and the estimated number of commercial units used in the US food industry (Table 7).

24

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Table 7 Microwave food processing systems operating in the US (Schiffmann, 1992 and 1995; Mudgett, 1989)

Process

Frequency (MHz)

Power Range

No. of systems*

 

(kW)

Tempering of meat, fish and poultry Bacon pre-cooking Pasts drying Meat, sausage and chicken cooking Pharmaceutical drying Drying (snacks and vegetables) Pasteurization/sterilization

915

3080

>400

915

50300

25

915

3050

20

2450

3080

5

2450

10

25

2450

40

5

2450

1030

>10 (Europe)

*Estimated by Schiffmann (1955).

Microwave Drying

It is generally not economical to use microwaves to replace conventional drying methods for complete drying processes. Microwave drying, however, has a major advantage in speeding up the final drying in the falling rate region in which conventional drying becomes less effective and takes a long time due to reduced heat and moisture transfer. The most successful drying application is the finishing drying of pasta products. Pasta must be dried to a moisture content of about 13%. When hot air is used, a hard case forms after the pasta loses surface moisture. This not only dramatically reduces the moisture diffusion rate and slows the drying process, but also causes unacceptable cracking when dried with high temperatures and dry air. This problem can be alleviated by using a slow drying process at a low temperature and relatively high humidity. This process, however, may take over eight hours. Since microwaves interact directly with the moisture in the core of the pasta, microwave heating provides a positive gradient for moisture to migrate towards the surface, thus significantly reducing drying time. When microwaves were used as the finishing drying method (from 1813.5%), the process time was reduced to 1.5 hour, and the length of the process line was reduced from 8.3 m to 3.6 m (Microdry, 1998). This process also resulted in a 20 to 25% savings in energy, and a product with better color and texture, as well as 15 times less bacteria than products from conventional methods (Decareau, 1995). Microwave drying under vacuum conditions has been demonstrated to produce high quality dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Pilot-scale testing facilities are available for process demonstration and development at California State

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

25

University Fresno, California and at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The food industry is, however, slow to adopt this technology, possibly due to a lack of understanding of the microwave and vacuum drying, inexperience in the process control, and relatively high capital investment.

Tempering

In many food production processes, incoming meat or fish is frozen in thick blocks and stored at 30° to 10°C until ready to use. For further processing, such as cooking or drying, this material needs to be diced, sliced or separated into smaller pieces. This mechanical operation requires that the blocks be “tempered” from their solid frozen state to a point just below freezing ( 4C to 2°C) at which point cutting or separation can be done without damage to the product and the machinery. In conventional tempering operations, the temperature of frozen food in solid blocks of up to 100 pounds is raised to just below freezing with the application of water or air. In most plants, the frozen blocks are simply thawed in warm water, which takes several hours. Others use hot air. Many use floor tempering alone, without any heat aid, which may take up to three to four days. The drip loss with conventional methods is often around 5%. Long tempering time and drip loss may result in contamination by psychrotrophic bacteria. Microwaves have a large penetration depth in frozen products, and thus provide relatively uniform heating throughout frozen blocks. Microwave tempering is generally accomplished in continuous units in less than five minutes. It is critical that the temperature of the products remain below the freezing point to avoid thermal runaway. The advantages of microwave tempering include: higher product quality at lower overall cost (0.33 to 0.20 cents per pound), space requirements are reduced up to 90%; and time is reduced up to 98% (Microdry, 1998). The capital investment is about $150 000 for production rates of up to 7500 lb/hr.

Pre-Cooking of Bacon

Microwave pre-cooking of bacon for institutional use and for use in the food service industry is yet another successful industrial application of microwave heating. Pre-cooked bacon is rid of most fat and requires only heating before serving. This product is easy to use and there is little need for disposal of the rendered fat. Pre-cooking also reduces the flight costs and the warehouse space for bacon by up to 50%. Microwave pre-cooking for bacon takes about 1.5 to 2 minutes (Decareau, 1985). A continuous commercial microwave heating unit incorporates hot air to remove moisture and can process up to 50 000 strips per

26

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

hour. Microwave pre-cooked products retain about 75% of their original length, as compared to a 40 to 50% size retention when cooked with conventional methods. The yield is increased by 30 to 40%, because no product is lost through overcooking (Mudgett, 1989). The fat rendered from the bacon during the microwave pre-cooking process is of high quality and can be sold as a high value by-product. Additional advantages include energy savings of about 75% and a reduction of processing floor space by about 50%, compared with the conventional pre-cooking method.

Microwave Pasteurization

Plastic packaging materials are transparent to microwaves. Microwave can, therefore, be used to heat a food product in a sealed package. The major advantage of microwave pasteurization of packaged foods is the elimination of possible post-treatment contamination. Another advantage of microwave pasteurization is the shorter heat-up time and is thus more energy efficient than conventional heating methods. Microwave pasteurization of packaged foods is commercialized in Europe, Japan and the US (Ohlsson, 1989; Schiffmann, 1992). Those units operate at 2450 MHz, normally with 1040 kW of installed microwave power. Packaged cakes, breads, fresh pasta and refrigerated ready-to- serve meals are pasteurized in a process during which the temperature of the product is raised to 80°C in 3 to 5 minutes and then held for several minutes. This process provides protection against molds, yeast, and thermolabile bacteria (Giese, 1992).

RECENT RESEARCH ACTIVITIES AT WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

Renewed interest on microwave processing in food applications is evident from increasing reports in recent literature. Those activities are, in part, driven by consumers’ desire for high quality foods and by a general need for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly processes. The following subsections describes some of the recent results on microwave drying and sterilization from our laboratory.

Microwave Drying in a Spouted-Bed

An inherent problem associated with microwave drying is non-uniform heating caused by an uneven spatial distribution of the electromagnetic field inside the

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

27

drying cavity. Non-uniform heating may cause partial scorching in high sugar products. Fluidization provides pneumatic agitation for particles in the drying bed. It also facilitates heat and mass transfer due to a constantly renewed boundary layer at the particle surface. Coarse food particles such as diced apples are, however, difficult to fluidize, especially when their moisture content is relatively high and surface is sticky due to high sugar content. We developed a laboratory system to study the feasibility of combining microwave heating with

a spouted-bed to finish-dry high sugar fruits such as blueberries and diced apples.

A spouted-bed is a special fluidized technique suitable for handling Group-D

particles in the Geldart classification of particles (Geldart, 1973). Group-D particles are coarse particles that cannot be fluidized well in ordinary fluidized beds. Many coarse dices of agricultural products, including diced apples, fall

into the Group-D particle category (Feng et al., 1999). A major distinction between a spouted-bed and an ordinary fluidized-bed lies in the particle flow pattern (Fig. 18). In an ordinary fluidized-bed, particles experience a localized oscillatory and somewhat random movement. In a spouted-bed, on the other hand, the particles are moved through a macro-scale circulation featured by upward “spouts” and downward annulus. The trajectory of an individual particle forms a three-dimensional pattern in the spouted bed over a certain period, but the position of the particle at any moment is random. This particle circulation pattern provides a uniform heating in the microwave field. A schematic diagram

of the laboratory microwave-spouted-bed drying system is shown in Fig. 19. It

consists of: 1) a variable microwave power source (from 0 to 1.4 kW) operating

at 2450 MHz; 2) an air supply system with an electric heater and a temperature

controller; and 3) a spouted-bed. A circulating water load was used to protect the magnetron from overheating when the product moisture was low. The

Spouted bed Air Air
Spouted bed
Air
Air

Ordinary fluidized bed

Fig. 18 Comparison between an ordinary fluidized-bed and a spouted-bed.

28

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Microwave power controller Spouted bed Microwave cavity Computer Magnetron Sample T F T Temperature controller
Microwave power controller
Spouted bed
Microwave cavity
Computer
Magnetron
Sample
T
F
T
Temperature
controller
D
V
Water pump
Heater
Electric balance
Sink
bypass
Blower
D -- Dew point temperature;
F -- Flowrate;
T -- Temperature;
V -- Velocity;

Fig. 19 Schematic diagram of microwave and spouted-bed drying system (Feng and Tang, 1998).

microwave power absorbed by the water load was calculated by temperature increase of the circulating water. Microwave input into the drying was estimated by the difference between the microwave power from the generator and the absorbed power in the circulating water. A more detailed description of the system is provided in Feng and Tang (1998). Temperature distribution among sample particles in microwave-spouted-bed drying process was very uniform, as indicated by the error bars in Fig. 20. Figure 21 shows a comparison of center temperature variation in ten apple dices after 2.5 minutes of drying with the microwave-spouted-bed drying system and in a stationary bed during microwave heating. In the microwave-spouted drying bed, the variation in the product core temperature was between ± 4C about the average. This variation was reduced to about ± 1.4°C toward the end of a 25-minute drying (Fig. 20). With a stationary bed and a horizontal flow of hot air at 70°C, however, microwave heating caused severe localized heating. For example, the center temperature of one dice was recorded as 193°C, while another was at 65.5°C. Some apple dices were charred, while others were still very moist. Thus, the spouted-bed helped to overcome the drawback of non-uniform heating in a microwave cavity.

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

29

100 25 temperature 80 20 III II 60 15 I 40 10 moisture 20 5
100
25
temperature
80
20
III
II
60
15
I
40
10
moisture
20
5
0
0
0
5
10
15
20
25
Temperature (°C)
Temperature o ( C)
Moisture content (wb) %

Drying time (min)

Fig. 20 Temperature and moisture content changes of diced apples during microwave and spouted-bed drying using 70C hot air and 4.9 W/g (raw material) microwave power (Feng and Tang, 1998).

10 MW&SB drying 5 0 T(average) = 74.29 o C -5 100 -10 MW &
10
MW&SB drying
5
0
T(average) = 74.29 o C
-5
100
-10
MW & parallel flow hot-air drying
75
MW & parallel flow hot-air druying
50
25
T(average) = 101.32 o C
0
-25
-50
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Temperature deviation (°C)
Temperature deviation o C

Sampling sequence

Fig. 21 Variation of the core temperature among ten randomly sampled diced apples 2.5 minutes after the start of microwave-spouted-bed drying using 70°C hot air and 4.9 W/g (raw material) microwave power (Feng and Tang, 1998).

30

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

In large commercial drying operations, diced apples are usually dried in two

steps: 1) from fresh to 24% moisture content to produce so-called evaporated apples that can be used in pie filling or in other bakery products; and 2) from 24% to about 5% to produce low moisture diced apples used in breakfast cereals. Hot-air drying in the first stage is very effective. In the second stage, hot air drying is, however, much less efficient as the drying enters into the falling rate period. Very high air temperatures (sometimes over 100°C) are used to reduce the drying time, and the drying is still lengthy (over one hour). Microwave- spouted-bed drying may be particularly useful in this stage to reduce drying time. Figure 22 shows that the time needed to dry diced apples from an initial moisture content of 24% to 5% was reduced from over 2.5 hour in a spouted- bed at an air temperature of 70°C to only 10 minutes when assisted by microwave heating at 6.1 w/g (raw material). Generation of internal vapor pressure is

believed to contribute to significantly increased drying rate in microwave-spouted bed drying system (Feng et al., 2001). The product produced in the microwave- spouted-bed drying system had brighter color, lower bulk density and a higher rehydration rate than the hot air-dried products (Feng and Tang, 1998).

A relatively large air velocity (>1.9 m/s) in the microwave-spouted-bed dryer

also helps to maintain a constant product temperature (1014°C above the air temperature), and to eliminate the possibility of the product being overheated when product moisture content is low near the end of drying. We measured

moisture content is low near the end of drying. We measured Fig. 22 Drying curves of

Fig. 22 Drying curves of diced “Red Delicious” apples dried in a microwave and spouted-bed (MW & SB) or spouted-bed only using 70C hot air (Feng and Tang, 1998).

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

31

the dielectric properties of diced apples at various moisture content levels using an open-end coaxial probe system; and observed a significant drop of the die- lectric loss factor as the moisture was reduced. The product, therefore, absorbed much less microwave energy at a lower moisture content than at a higher moisture content. This compensates for lower energy loss from the product due to reduced moisture evaporation when at a lower moisture content, and thus contributes, to some degree, the more or less constant temperature near the end of drying. We are studying the energy efficiency of the microwave-spouted-bed drying process and the feasibility of scaling-up to commercial applications.

Microwave Sterilization

Microwave sterilization has a major potential advantage over retorting because the heat-up time of microwave processes can be very short (Buffler, 1993). Ohlsson (1987) demonstrated that a high-temperature-short-time microwave process (128°C and 3 minutes cooking time) produced products superior to those from canning (120°C retort temperature and 45 minutes processing time) and retorting foil pouches (125°C and 13 minutes cooking time). Earlier studies by Stenstrom (1974) and O’Meara et al. (1977) also showed that the microwave process produced better products than conventional sterilization processes. Several commercial microwave sterilization systems have been reported in the literature, including that of OMAC (Harlfinger, 1992) and Berstorff (Schlegel, 1992). But commercial applications of microwave sterilization processes can only be found in Belgium (TOPS Foods, Belgium) and Japan (Otsuka Chemical Co., Osaka, Japan). Reasons for the slow adaptation of microwave sterilization processes include non- unifor heating and a lack of reliable methods to validate commercial thermal processes for food safety. Large temperature variations in microwave heating are a result of excessive heating at the corner or edge of food stuff, due to localized concentrations of the microwave field. The means of providing a more uniform heating need to be investigated. All the work reported to date on microwave sterilization has been at the microwave frequency of 2450 MHz (Decareau, 1995). Potential advantages of using 915 MHz microwaves frequency, compared to 2450 MHz, are the deeper penetration depth in foodstuffs and, possibly, more uniform field distribution over a confined surface area of packaged foods. A pilot-scale (5 kW) pressurized 915 MHz microwave heating system has been developed in our laboratory (Fig. 23) to study high-temperature-short- temperature sterilization of packaged foods. During the sterilization process, vacuum-packaged food is immersed in a water solution with a selected salt concentration (based on dielectric property measurement) in a pressurized vessel

32

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Circulator Waveguide 915 MHz microwave generator Pressure Pressure gauge release-valve Stirrer Pre-pressure
Circulator
Waveguide
915 MHz
microwave
generator
Pressure
Pressure gauge
release-valve
Stirrer
Pre-pressure
regulator
Water-
holding
Water-
tank
level
Air supply
Fiber optical temperature &
pressure sensors
indicator
Photonetic
system
Steam kettle
Micro-processor
Pump
Water outlet
Pressurized vessel
Hot water
supply
Turntable
Cold water inlet
Product

Fig. 23 Schematic diagram of pressurized vessel in 915 MHz microwave system.

diagram of pressurized vessel in 915 MHz microwave system. Fig. 24 The 5 kW pilot-scale 915

Fig. 24 The 5 kW pilot-scale 915 MHz unit at Washington State University.

placed in the 915 MHz microwave cavity. The vessel wall is made of aluminum and the top and bottom plates are transparent to microwaves. The solution reduces refraction of microwaves at the interface between air and the food which helps to enhance microwave heating uniformity. Four fittings are installed in the top plate to allow insertion of fiber optic temperature and pressure sensors (1.5 mm dip diameter and 0.2 to 1 second response time) (Photonetics, Inc.,

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

33

Peabody, MA). One fiber optic sensor (inside a thermal well inserted in the

packaged food) is used to measure the temperature in the vacuum-sealed food.

A pressure regulating system outside of the microwave cavity controls the over-

pressure in the vessel during microwave heating. This over-pressure prevents food packages from bursting. Before sterilization tests, warm water at 70C was introduced to the vessel so that the temperature of the water solution and the product reached the same temperature of about 121C (the dielectric loss factor of water decreases with increasing temperature at 915 MHz, and thus hot water absorbs less energy than foods at high temperatures). Tap water was introduced into the vessel to

cool the food after sterilization. Typical temperature and pressure profiles during

a microwave sterilization is shown in Fig. 25. The product temperature was

measured at the center of a model food gel slab (12 cm 6.5 cm 2 cm) made

of 20% whey proteins. Figure 25 shows a short come-up time (< 4.5 minutes),

a steady temperature (~ 121C) during the holding period, and rapid cooling after the 915 MHz microwave sterilization process. The temperature difference between any two locations in the salt solution within the pressurized vessel was less than 1C. The gel center temperature was also very close to that of the salt solution temperature. The pressure inside the vessel was fairly stable over time. Figure 26 compares temperature-time profiles in an 8 oz packaged food during

140 30 25 120 Ch 1 Ch 4 Ch 2 Ch 3 20 100 Pressurized-
140
30
25
120
Ch 1
Ch 4
Ch 2
Ch 3
20
100
Pressurized-
vessel
15
Sample
80
Stand
10
60
5
Ch1 - Temp. inside food
Ch2 - Pressure inside pressurized vessel
Ch3 - Temp. inside pressurized vessel
40
0
Ch 4 -Temp. inside pressurized vessel
20
-5
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Temperature (°C)
Pressure (PSI)

Time (min)

Fig. 25 Time-temperature profile during the sterilization process of vacuum-packaged rectangular whey protein gel containing 1% ribose.

34

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

140 120 100 80 60 40 M icrowave able Pouch Retort Pouch Can 211 x
140
120
100
80
60
40
M icrowave able Pouch
Retort Pouch
Can 211 x 400
20
Tem perature (°C)

Fig. 26 Comparison of microwave and conventional sterilization history to achieve F o = 6 minutes.

microwave sterilization with those during conventional thermal processes to achieve an F o = 6. Microwave heating uniformity within whey protein gels was studied using the intrinsic chemical marker method developed by researchers at the US Army Natick Laboratories (Kim and Taub, 1993; Kim et al., 1996a and b). Three markers have been identified in various food systems, M1 [2,3-dihydro-3,5- dihydroxy-6-methyl-4(H)-pyran-4-one) and M2 [4-hydroxy-5-methyl-3 (2H)- furanone] are particularly useful. M1 is formed by Maillard reaction between glucose and protein, and M2 is formed through the reaction between ribose and protein (Fig. 26) (Prakash et al., 1997). Both marker formations follow first order reactions, and the formation M1 is slower than that of M2. M1 and M2 yields generated within whey protein gels at sterilizing temperatures were determined by an HPLC system (equipped with an anionic exclusion chromatographic column and a photodiode array detector) after the thermal processing to show the integrated time-temperature effect at various locations. M1 and M2 yield ratios in a whey protein gel after 3 minutes heating at about 121°C in the microwave sterilization are expressed yield ratios and shown in Fig. 27. The maximum marker yields were determined in an oil bath at 121°C in a separate test. Given the accuracy for M1 and M2 yield determination of about 5%, the marker yields were relatively uniform (Fig. 28). The results indicate that when heated in a suitable submerging solution using 915 MHz microwaves, the gel went through a very uniform heating. The relative uniform heating in our 915 MHz microwave sterilization system made it possible to sterilize food in a much shorter time than with conventional

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

35

D-glucose + amine

Amadori Compound Weak acid Strong acid 1,2 - enolization 2,3-enolization O HO OH 0 H0H2C
Amadori Compound
Weak acid
Strong acid
1,2 - enolization
2,3-enolization
O
HO
OH
0
H0H2C
CHO
H 3 C
0

5-hydroxymethylfurfural

(M-3)

2,3-dihydro-3,5-dihydroxy-6-methyl-

4(h)-pyran-4-one

(M-1)

D-ribose + amine

Amadori Compound

Strong acid

1-2-enolization

+ amine Amadori Compound Strong acid 1-2-enolization w eak acid 2,3-enolization CHO HO O H3C 0
+ amine Amadori Compound Strong acid 1-2-enolization w eak acid 2,3-enolization CHO HO O H3C 0

w eak acid 2,3-enolization

CHOStrong acid 1-2-enolization w eak acid 2,3-enolization HO O H3C 0 2-furaldehyde 4-hydroxy-5-methyl-

HO O H3C 0
HO
O
H3C
0

2-furaldehyde

4-hydroxy-5-methyl-

3(2H)-furanone

(M-2)

Fig. 27 Reaction pathways leading to the formation of chemical markers (Kim et al., 1996b).

retorting. A fast-cooking macaroni cheese product developed by Kraft Foods,

Inc. (Glenview, Illinois) was used to assess the effect of high-temperature-

Macaroni and Cheese Dinner

(Family Size) was cooked as instructed on the package, and sterilized in pouches (16.2 cm 13.6 cm 2 cm) in the 915 MHz microwave sterilizing system or

short-time sterilization on food quality. Kraft

36

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Top Bottom 1 1 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 0 0 M-2
Top
Bottom
1
1
0.8
0.8
0.6
0.6
0.4
0.4
0.2
0.2
0
0
M-2 yield
M-2 yield

Fig. 28 M1 (from 5% glucose) and M2 (from 1% ribose) yields in the top and bottom half-layers of rectangular whey protein gels (6.5 cm 12 cm 2 cm) after 915 MHz microwave heating for 3 minutes at 121C.

retorted in cans (size: 303 406) to F o 5. 2 No significant product texture or flavor was lost during the microwave sterilization process. Drained weight measurement was also performed for these samples following the instructions developed by the US Army Natick RD&E Center. The macaroni and cheese sterilized with microwaves retain the original structure while the canned became “lumpy and gooey” (Fig. 29). Similar research on peas also indicated a better color and texture retention when sterilized with microwaves compared to conventionally canned products. We are researching on the effects of storage on the quality of microwave sterilized products.

Microwave Pasteurization

FDA regulations (FDA, 21 CFR parts 102, 110, 113 and 114, 1998) require that pickled products be pasteurized to inactivate pathogenic and spoilage micro- organisms. Many vegetables such as asparagus are, however, heat-sensitive and the texture usually severely degrade during thermal treatments (McGlynn et al., 1993). During pasteurization of pickled products, it is important to minimize quality losses. A study was carried out to investigate the effect of 915 MHz

2 F o value was calculated using the general method (Ball and Olson, 1959) based on the temperature of the coldest spot T c in the package:

F

o

=

t

0

10

(

T

c

T

ref

)/

z

dt

where T ref = 121.12 o C, Z = 10 o C (Z value for Clostridium botulinum), and t is process time.

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

37

Microwave Heating in Food Processing 37 (a) (b) Fig. 29 Comparison of microwave and retort sterilized

(a)

Microwave Heating in Food Processing 37 (a) (b) Fig. 29 Comparison of microwave and retort sterilized

(b)

Fig. 29 Comparison of microwave and retort sterilized macaroni and cheese. The product was not specially formulated to withstand severe thermal processing. (a) Products after sterilization and (b) after the drained weight tests.

microwave pasteurization on the textural quality of pickled asparagus in 64 oz glass bottles. The pickled asparagus in 64 oz glass bottles was treated with three different pasteurization processes: 1) Treatment I bottled asparagus was filled with 80C brine to reach 50C, the bottle was then heated to 70C in a water bath (80C)

38

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

and then further heated to 88C (determined at the coldest spot) using a pilot scale 915 MHz microwave oven at 2 kW power level; 2) Treatment II similar to Treatment I, except that 1 kW was used to reach the pasteurization temperature, instead of 2 kW; 3) Treatment III (conventional heating) the pickled asparagus in 64 oz bottles was filled with brine at 80C to reach an equilibrium temperature of 50C. The bottles were heated in water bath set at 98C until the temperature at the coldest spot reached 88C. After each heat treatment, the bottle was first tempered with lukewarm water (40C) for 30 seconds, to reduce the checking of the glass bottles, and then further cooled with running tap water (10C). For microwave treatment, the top one-third of the bottle was covered with aluminum foil to shield microwave radiation to enhance heating uniformity, and the coldest location in the bottle was pre-determined by measuring temperature at eight different locations using fiber optical sensors. The reason for pre-heating to 70C in water bath prior to microwave treatments was to reduce the use of microwave energy or increase the capacity of microwave equipment. Our kinetics study (Lau et al., 2000) indicates that the texture loss in asparagus at or below 70C is negligible compared to the texture loss at 80~90C (Fig. 30, only shown for the butt section, similar results were obtained for the middle and bud sections). Cook value (C-value) was used to evaluate the thermal effect of different processes on the quality of pickled asparagus (Table 8). The conventional heating

15 14 13 12 70°C, r 2 = 80°C, r 2 = 0.576 0.819 90°C,
15
14
13
12
70°C, r 2 =
80°C, r 2 =
0.576
0.819
90°C, r 2 =
0.889
11
98°C, r 2 = 0.986
10
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Ln (Shear Stress)

Time (min)

Fig. 30 Effect of heating temperature and time on texture of asparagus as indicated by the maximum shear stress to cut through asparagus spears (Lau et al., 2000).

Microwave Heating in Food Processing

39

Table 8 C-value for pickled asparagus using different pasteurization processes (Lau and Tang, 1998)

Pasteurization process

Location in bottle*

C -value (min)

Hot-filled, boiling water bath and rapid-cooled

Surface

8.66

Hote-filled, water bath, 1 kW microwave and rapid-cooled

Top surface

3.16

Hot-filled, water bath, 2 kW microwave and rapid-cooled

Bottom surface

2.64

*The most severely heated locations in each treatment detected by temperature measurement. † The C-value was evaluated from:

t ( T T )/ Z C = 10 ref dt , where T ref
t
(
T
T
)/
Z
C =
10
ref
dt
,
where T ref = 100∞C, Z = 33°C
0
450
C = Fresh asparagus
T1 = Com bination of hot filled, water bath heated to 70°C ,
400
915
M Hz m icrow ave heated (2 kW ), and hydrocooled.
T2 = Com bination of hot filled, water bath heated to 70°C ,
350
915
M Hz m icrow ave heated (1 kW ), and hydrocooled.
T3 = Hot filled, heated in boiling w ater bath, and hydrocooled.
300
easured shear stress
M
250
redicted shear stress
P
200
150
100
50
0
C T1
T2
T3
Shear stress (kPa)

Treatm ent

Fig. 31 Effect of different pasteurization on texture of pickled asparagus (Lau and Tang, 1998).

method resulted in a much higher C-value (more severe cooking) than the two microwave heating treatments which significantly reduced thermal degradation. This was further confirmed by our textural study. The maximum shear stresses for pickled asparagus after conventional and microwave heating treatments are shown in Fig. 31 (only shown for the bud

40

J. Tang, F. Hao & M. Lau

Table 9 Kinetic data for texture degradation of green asparagus during pasteurization (Lau et al., 2000)

Lacation

E a (kcal/mol)

k a (min 1 )

Butt

24.9

0.0153

Middle

24.8

0.0224

Bud

23.7

0.0278

section, similar results were obtained for the middle and butt sections). In general, the shear stress values for pickled asparagus in the bud, middle and butt segments heated with microwave treatments were higher than those heated by the conventional method. For microwave treatments, the shear stress values for the pickled asparagus treated with 2 kW microwave heating were higher than those treated with 1 kW microwave heating. The predicted maximum shear stresses (based on kinetic model using the parameters shown in Table 9) were within the range of the experimental values.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Our research projects on microwave drying and sterilization were funded by Washington State University IMPACT Center, Northwest Small Fruit Research Center, and the US Army Natick RD&E Center. The reported experiment results at Washington State University were gathered by Ph.D. students, Feng Hao, Ming Lau and Julian N. Ikediala.

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