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Microwave and Radio Frequency Heating

Ramaswamy, H., Tang, J.
Food science and technology international 2008 v.14 no.5 pp. 423-427
blanching, commercialization, containers, dielectric heating, disinfestation, drying, enzyme kinetics, equipment design, foods, heat, models, ovens, packaging materials, pasteurization, process monitoring, receptors, temperature, tempering, vibration
This paper brings to perspective issues related to research initiatives for the application of microwave (MW) and radiofrequency (RF) applications in foods. Both MW (300 MHz and 300 GHz) and RF waves (3 kHz — 300 MHz) are part of the electromagnetic spectrum that result in heating of dielectric materials by induced molecular vibration as a result of dipole rotation or ionic polarization. They have been credited with volumetric heat generation resulting in rapid heating of foodstuffs. Due to their lower frequency levels, RF waves have a larger penetration depth than MW and hence could find better application in larger size foods. Besides the popular domestic use of MW ovens, commercialized applications of MW/RF heating include blanching, tempering, pasteurization, sterilization, drying, rapid extraction, enhanced reaction kinetics, selective heating, disinfestations, etc. This paper reviews the current status and research needs for in-packaged sterilization technologies for commercial applications. Technological challenges include process equipment design, microbial destruction and enzyme inactivation kinetics, temperature and process monitoring, and achieving of temperature uniformity. Other issues also relate to the use of packaging material in in-package sterilization applications, package/container concerns in domestic MW ovens, receptor technology for creating dry-oven conditions, modeling and time-temperature process integrators. There is also the issue of non-thermal and enhanced thermal effects of microwave heating on destruction kinetics.