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Microwave oven prototype based on new ceramic material will be tested

The new ceramic material absorbs the 99% of the microwaves and transforms them into heat, which arrives to the food. Developed by the CSIC, the UPC and the spin-off Microbiotech, this material could enable the reduction of CO2 emissions of gas ovens in the food sector.

With the new microwave prototype, scientists expect to obtain the golden-brown colour that makes baked products appetizing. A little known fact is that emissions of CO2 due to the use of cooking processes in the food industry are up to 8.3% of the total industrial emissions, and the 1.3% of the total emissions. In 2014, Spanish food sector released 253,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, the 90% of which were generated by cooking processes, mainly ovens.

 

Is it possible to reduce these emissions? This is the goal of a Spanish research project, aimed at testing a technology of microwaves combined with a new transducer based on a new ceramic material.

“The transducer includes a ceramic material which absorbs 99% of the radiation in the microwave range and transforms it into heat, which arrives to the food”, explains José F. Fernández, a CSIC research professor at the Instituto de Cerámica y Vidrio of the CSIC. His team has developed and patented the transducer, together with scientists at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) y the spin-off Microbiotech.

The new technology could help to reduce CO2 emissons generated by food industrial sector

Microwave ovens are fast and energetically efficient. Their inconvenient is that food doesn’t acquire the golden-brown colour that makes baked products appetizing. This is a drawback for the producers of bakery and similar products. That’s why, at the end, they chose as better option microwaves combined with electric grills or, more often, large tunnel kilns that run on gas.

But electric ovens are more compatible with renewable energies and can open the possibility to energetic self-sufficiency.

The HEFESTO project will test an oven prototype based on the new ceramic material. “We know that it is efficient transforming energy into heat but now this has to be proved. And we have to find out whether it is viable or not”, says the scientist.
   
The prototype will be tested and compared to a gas oven. Both ovens will operate under the same conditions. The microwave prototype will work slightly differently than a conventional microwave as the food will not receive microwaves, but the heat generated by microwaves in the ceramic material.  

With the new material, food will not receive microwaves but the heat generated by microwaves in the ceramic material

The HEFESTO project, which is led by I+dea of SIRO Group (one of the main Spanish of bakey products), has as a partners the Instituto de Cerámica y Vidrio of the  CSIC; the ITACA Institute and the Instituto Universitario de Ingeniería de Alimentos para el Desarrollo, both at the Valencia Polytechnic University; and Sistemas RBT, company that designs and produces industrial machinery, and has expertise in microwave oven.

The project is funded by the 'Retos' programme, of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, and by the European Regional Development Fund of the EU.