Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Food Engineering 84 (2008), pp. 270–280; doi: 10.1016/j.jfoodeng.2007.05.020 Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


The present study investigated the effect of different factors on temperature distribution within a spherical object in a parallel plate radio frequency (RF) heating system. A finite element-computer simulation program - FEMLAB was used to solve the electromagnetic and Navier-Stoke equations for developing a model to study the effect of dielectric properties of a model fruit and its surrounding medium. The model fruit was prepared from 1% gellan gel for experimental validation of the simulation results. The results showed that spherically-shaped samples surrounded with air between RF electrodes and placed in the proximity of electrodes would not heat uniformly. Immersing the model fruit in water helped to reduce uneven heating within the model fruit, but created a new problem because the model fruits were found to heat unevenly at different horizontal positions. Horizontal and vertical model fruit positions with respect to electrodes significantly influenced the heating patterns inside the model fruit. The study suggested that movement and rotation of the spherical object is the only plausible solution for improving heating uniformity. The developed computer model can be further used for prediction of the heating pattern of fresh fruit as influenced by dielectric properties, size, shape, and surrounding media to design thermal treatments of specific commodities.