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Chua Meiye and Tan Fock Lai

School of Mechanical and Production Engineering
Nanyang Technological University
50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798

Freezing is widely used in food preservation technique. The designers and users of freezing equipment
need simple prediction methods to calculate the freezing time. The objectives of this research are to
compare the freezing time equations as well as the shape factors used in these equations proposed by
various researchers and the effect of the thermal properties on the freezing time of the foodstuffs. Coskan
et.al.[8] have the most accurate freezing times equations with the least errors up to this point in time.

INTRODUCTION Planck equation has made it the most popular

method for predicting freezing time. Most other
Freezing of foods is a widely used preservation available analytical methods are modifications of
technique because frozen products can be stored Planck equation, with an emphasis on
for long periods without practical alteration of developments to overcome limitations to the
their initial characteristics. Freezing is an original equation.
important process; the calculation of freezing Numerous attempts have been made to improve
time has been the subject of much research. freezing time capabilities. These methods vary
There are many published procedures developed considerably in complexity and accuracy.
specifically to determine the freezing time of Creland et.al [2] method contains seven
food. regression coefficients for the basic geometries
The first and most popular equation for freezing and also requires values for Tf and Ku. They also
time was proposed by Planck [1] .This equation defined a shape factor called EHTD (number of
describes only the phase change period of the equivalent heat transfer dimensions) EHTD =
freezing process. The equation is as follows: Freezing time of slab/Freezing time of object.
ρ fL f P'a R'a 2 (1) This shape factor is expected to vary from 1 to 3.
t =f ( + )
Tf − Ta h Kf They used numerical prediction methods to
where ρf is density of the frozen material, Lf is generate data to assess and develop geometric
factors taking account of the effect of product
the latent heat of food, Tf is freezing geometry on freezing time. Improved empirical
temperature, Ta is the freezing air temperature, formulae for two existing geometric factors were
Kf is the thermal conductivity of the frozen food, developed; these depend only on the Biot
a is the thickness/dimension of object and the number and parameters that described object
constants P’ and R’ are used to account for the shape. The new formulae are accurate for both
influence of product shape. freezing and thawing of an extended range of
The derivation of Planck equation assumes that: regular multi-dimensional shapes and for a wider
(i) Freezing takes place, and hence latent heat is range of conditions than the original formula.
released, at a single temperature Tf. Thus thermal Pham also developed equations for predicting the
conductivity changes sharply from Ku to Kf. freezing time of foodstuffs, which involve no
(ii) Sensible heat effects are negligible; i.e., cu = empirical factor for the simpler shapes.
cf = 0. Simplification of Pham full freezing prediction
The limitations to Planck’s equation are equations which had been developed earlier lead
primarily related to assignment of quantitative to the Pham [3] equation. This equation makes it
values to the components of the equation. suitable for hand calculations. The 90% error
Density values for frozen foods are difficult to range of –11 to 10% is adequate for most
locate or measure. Although the initial freezing practical purpose.
temperature is tabulated for many foods, the Siew and Merritt [4] proposed freezing time
initial and final product temperatures are not model for small finite cylindrical shaped
accounted for in the equation for computation of foodstuff. Hossain and Creland [5] proposed the
freezing time. The thermal conductivity Kf prediction of freezing and thawing times for
should be for the frozen product, and accurate foods of two-dimensional and three dimensional
values are not readily available for most foods. irregular shapes by using a semi-analytical
Even with theses limitations, the ease of using
geometric factor. Zhang Lin et.al [6] proposed a Infinite rectangular rod, and rectangular brick,
simple method for prediction of chilling times which are commonly encountered in freezing
for objects of two-dimensional and three- foods. Equation 2 may be used for this purpose
dimensional irregular shape. Salvadori, et.al. [7] using an appropriate value of the shape factor,
proposed prediction of freezing times for regular Ef. In order to calculate Ef, two dimensional
multi-dimensional foods using simple formulae. ratios are required, β 1 and β 2.
Coskan et. al. [8] proposed improved
formulations of shape factors for freezing and β1 = second shortest dimension of object /
thawing time prediction of foods. shortest dimension of object
The objectives of this project are to study the β 2 = longest dimension of object / shortest
freezing times of some of the foodstuffs with
various geometries using Pham [3] spreadsheet dimension of object
and also on the effects of the thermal properties The equivalent dimension Ef is obtained as
on the freezing times of the foodstuffs and also follows: Ef = G1 +G2E1 +G3E2 (7)
to investigate the various different equations of where values of G1, G2 and G3 are given in
the freezing time proposed by the various Table 1, and E1 and E2 are obtained from the
authors. following equations:
X1 0 . 73 (8)
E = + [1 − X ]
1 1
Pham [3] proposed a method for predicting food E2 =
X 2
+ [1 − X ] 0 . 73 (9)
β β2
2 2 .5
freezing and thawing time. His method can be 2

used for finite-size objects of irregular shapes by where factors X1 and X2 are obtained
approximating them to be similar to an ellipsoid. 2 . 32 β − 1 . 77
X = 1

Another advantage of this method is that it is 1

(2 Bi ) 1 . 34
+ 2 . 32 β 1
− 1 . 77

easy to use, yet it provides answers with and

reasonable accuracy. 2 . 32 β (11)
− 1 . 77
X = 2
The time for freezing of any simple-shaped 2
(2 Bi ) + 2 . 32 β 2− 1 . 77
1 . 34

object is calculated from the following equation: where Biot number and thermal conductivity of
dc ∆H 1 ∆ H 2  Bi  (2) frozen food are as follow:
t =  + 1+ 
E f h  ∆ T1 ∆ T2  2  hl (12)
Bi =
where dc is a characteristic dimension, either K f
shortest distance to center, or radius, Ef is the where h is heat transfer coefficient, l is the
shape factor, an equivalent heat transfer characteristics length.
dimension. Ef =1 for an infinite slab. Ef = 2 for Kf =Ku +fw(Kice-Kw) (13)
an infinite cylinder, and Ef =3 for a sphere. Table 1: G values for different shapes
Precooling period: Shapes G1 G2 G3
∆ H1 = ρ ucu(Ti-Tfm) (3) Finite Cylinder, H<D 1 2 0
Phase change and postcooling period: Finite cylinder, H>D 2 0 1
∆ H2 = ρ f[Lf +cf(Tfm-Tc)] (4) Rectangular rod 1 1 0
 T i + T fm  Rectangular brick 1 1 1
∆ T 1 =   − Ta (5)
2  Equation 2 can even be used to calculate ellipses
 
and ellipsoids [9].
∆ T2 = Tfm - Ta (6) (14)
Using experimental data obtained from freezing 1 + Bi / 4
E =
a wide variety of foods, Pham determined the 1 Bi / 4
equation for the mean freezing temperature: F 1 + α 12 + α 22
Tfm = 1.8 + 0.263Tc+ 0.105Ta. For two-dimensional cases ( α 2=0) three-
where Tc is the desired final centre temperature. dimensional cases includes the limits of zero
This is the only empirical expression used in internal (Bi=0) and zero external (Bi=infinity)
Pham method. resistances.
Depending on the factor Ef, Equation 2 is useful From these equations listed above, Pham created
in determining freezing time for an infinite slab, a spreadsheet which can be found in URL
infinite cylinder, or a sphere shape. Pham’s http://www.ceic.unsw.edu.au/staff/Tuan_Pham/
method can also be used to calculate freezing In this paper, the spreadsheet was used to
times of other shapes such as a finite cylinder, calculate the freezing time of some foodstuffs.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION calculated to be about 7W/m2K. Thus, from
Fig.2 it showed that as h increases to about 10
Pham’s spreadsheet was used. Four different W/m2K, the effect of the heat transfer coefficient
foods were used in this project and their input on the freezing is insignificant. The minimum
values such as water content, freezing point, and time needed for each of the various geometries
specific heat before freezing, specific heat after was also showed in Table 3. Another observation
freezing, latent heat are taken from [10], except is that when the heat transfer coefficient
for the thermal conductivity of frozen product relatively large, the geometries of the rod and
which is obtained using Equation 13. The brick; and also the ellipse and cylinder D>H)
smallest dimension was taken to be 0.12 m; the would have the same freezing time.
shortest smallest dimension was taken to be 0.24 180
m while the largest dimension was taken to be 160
0.50 m. The initial product temperature was 140

Freezing Time
taken to be 35ºC; air temperature was -40ºC and 120
desired final centre temperature -10ºC. 80
Fig.1 shows that slab takes the longest time to 60
freeze followed by rod, brick, ellipse, cylinder 40
(D>H), ellipsoid, cylinder (D<H) while sphere 20
takes the least time. Thus, geometries of the
0 20 40 60 80 100
foodstuffs play an important role in the freezing
Heat Tranfer Coefficient
of food.
Figure 2: Freezing Time versus Heat Transfer Coefficient
Freezing Time

15 Table 3: Freezing Time vs Heat Transfer Coefficient for

Various Geometries (Chicken)
Geometry Heat Transfer Coefficient (W/m2K)
5 h=1 h=20 h=40 h=80 h=∞
0 Slab 167.1 11.3 7.2 5.1 3.1
Slab Rod Cyl D>H Brick
Sphere 55.7 3.8 2.4 1.7 1.0
Geometry Rod 112.6 9.1 6.1 4.4 2.7
Ellipse 112.1 8.1 5.3 3.9 2.4
Figure 1: Freezing Time versus Geometry (Chicken) Cyl D>H 84.9 7.7 5.3 3.9 2.4
Cyl D<H 67.4 5.2 3.4 2.5 1.5
Table 2 shows that chicken was the foodstuff Brick 98.9 8.9 6.0 4.4 2.7
that takes the longest time to freeze regardless of Ellipsoid 97.3 7.4 4.9 3.7 2.3
the shapes. This might attributed to its low Coskan et.al.[8] proposed the following shape
freezing point compared with the other meats. factors for the computation of the freezing time.
These readings are recorded with the heat Shape Factors for predictions for freezing of
transfer coefficient being 11W/m2K. infinite cylinder:
Table 2: Freezing Time of the Various Foodstuffs
Geometry Freezing Time (hours)
+0.0112/Bi (15)
Chicken Salmon Beef Pork
Shape Factors for predictions for freezing of
Slab 18 15.9 12.7 14.1 spheres:
Sphere 6 5.3 4.2 4.7 (EHTD)s=2.8842-0.0271Tcf+0.00457Ti+
Rod 13.8 12.3 9.7 10.8 0.0113Ta +0.0341/Bi (16)
Ellipse 12.6 11.2 8.9 9.9 Shape Factors for predictions for freezing of
Cyl D>H 11.2 10 7.8 8.8 ellipses:
Cyl D<H 8 7.1 5.6 6.3 (EHTD)ell = EPham-0.06437-0.0062Tcf+0.00036Ti
Brick 13.3 11.9 9.3 10.4 +0.00177Ta +0.01885/Biβ (17)
Ellipsoid 11.4 10.1 8 8.9 Simplified Shape Factors for predictions for
Figure 2 and Table 3 shows that as h increases, freezing of ellipses:
the freezing time decreases until eventually it (EHTD)ell=EPham-0.0119-0.0062Tcf+
reaches a constant value. According to the 0.01885/Biβ (18)
empirical correlations equations for free It is more accurate than using the ratio DA/2V
convection, the heat transfer coefficient was (D=smallest dimension, A= area, V= volume) as
the shape factor. Using DA/2V as the shape 10W/m2K, the effect is insignificant. Up to this
factor resulted in poor predictions, especially, point in time it is believed that Coskan et.al.[8]
when the phase change was far from being have the most accurate freezing times equations
completed (Final centre temperature, Tcf = -5ºC with the least errors. As freezing affects the
for freezing). For predicting the shape factors for quality of food, the determination of the thermal
the freezing times of ellipses, Pham model [3] properties that would affect the freezing times of
gave accurate predictions, except for cases of the foodstuffs and also the most simple, accurate
high final centre temperature in freezing (-5ºC). method to calculate the freezing times are
Therefore, in obtaining regression equations for important in the industry.
ellipses, Pham model was used as an input to the
regression equations whose forms were REFERENCES
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