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Research Papers

Modeling Transport in Porous Media With Phase Change: Applications to Food Processing

[+] Author and Article Information
Amit Halder1

Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853ah333@cornell.edu

Ashish Dhall1

Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853ad333@cornell.edu

Ashim K. Datta2

Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853akd1@cornell.edu

1

Co-authors Amit Halder and Ashish Dhall contributed equally to this work.

2

Corresponding author.

J. Heat Transfer 133(3), 031010 (Nov 16, 2010) (13 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4002463 History: Received February 13, 2009; Revised May 05, 2010; Published November 16, 2010; Online November 16, 2010

Fundamental, physics-based modeling of complex food processes is still in the developmental stages. This lack of development can be attributed to complexities in both the material and transport processes. Society has a critical need for automating food processes (both in industry and at home) while improving quality and making food safe. Product, process, and equipment designs in food manufacturing require a more detailed understanding of food processes that is possible only through physics-based modeling. The objectives of this paper are (1) to develop a general multicomponent and multiphase modeling framework that can be used for different thermal food processes and can be implemented in commercially available software (for wider use) and (2) to apply the model to the simulation of deep-fat frying and hamburger cooking processes and validate the results. Treating food material as a porous medium, heat and mass transfer inside such material during its thermal processing is described using equations for mass and energy conservation that include binary diffusion, capillary and convective modes of transport, and physicochemical changes in the solid matrix that include phase changes such as melting of fat and water and evaporation/condensation of water. Evaporation/condensation is considered to be distributed throughout the domain and is described by a novel nonequilibrium formulation whose parameters have been discussed in detail. Two complex food processes, deep-fat frying and contact heating of a hamburger patty, representing a large group of common food thermal processes with similar physics have been implemented using the modeling framework. The predictions are validated with experimental results from the literature. As the food (a porous hygroscopic material) is heated from the surface, a zone of evaporation moves from the surface to the interior. Mass transfer due to the pressure gradient (from evaporation) is significant. As temperature rises, the properties of the solid matrix change and the phases of frozen water and fat become transportable, thus affecting the transport processes significantly. Because the modeling framework is general and formulated in a manner that makes it implementable in commercial software, it can be very useful in computer-aided food manufacturing. Beyond its immediate applicability in food processing, such a comprehensive model can be useful in medicine (for thermal therapies such as laser surgery), soil remediation, nuclear waste treatment, and other fields where heat and mass transfer takes place in porous media with significant evaporation and other phase changes.

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Figures

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Figure 1

Schematic of a porous food material showing mass transfer between various phases

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Figure 2

Schematic showing computational domain and boundary conditions. Two-dimensional geometry was implemented with the above boundary conditions to simulate an effective one-dimensional problem. For computation, the dimension in the y-direction was chosen to be 0.08 cm.

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Figure 3

Comparison of model predictions for deep-fat frying with experimental data from literature for (a) temperature and (b) moisture content (dry basis). The spatial pressure and evaporation profiles during different times of frying are shown in (c) and (d), respectively (38).

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Figure 4

Schematic showing computational domain and boundary in the case of contact heating of a hamburger patty

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Figure 5

(a) Temperature at the center point, (b) average moisture content, (c) spatial pressure, and (d) spatial evaporation rate profiles for contact heating of a hamburger patty at different times

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