Modeling of Susceptor Assisted Microwave Heating in Domestic Ovens

K. Pitchai[1], S. Birla[2], J. Diamond Raj[3], J. Subbiah[2], and D. Jones[2]
[1]Dept. of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
[2]Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
[3]Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India

Susceptors are very thin metallic microwave absorbing films used in microwaveable food packaging. They tend to heat up very rapidly during microwave heating and this effect helps to overcome two major issues faced in domestic microwave ovens; 1) Non-uniform heating and 2) lack of browning. While susceptors are being widely used, there is still a lack of scientific knowledge about their interaction with microwave. Modeling of their interaction with microwaves is an opportunity to bridge the knowledge gap and optimize their role in microwaveable food packaging.

Modeling of the susceptors was done using radio frequency and heat transfer modules in COMSOL Multiphysics 4.2. Two different approaches (domain discretization and transient boundary condition) were studied for taking into the account of thin film in the computational model domain. The transient boundary condition approach was found to be best considering the computational resource and accuracy.

Simulated temperature profiles were compared with microwave heating of 1% gellan gel cylinder covered with different types of susceptors films. There was good agreement between the simulated and experimental temperature profile. The validated model can be further used for designing of various food packages to alleviate one or more problems encountered in microwaveable product development.