A microscale Model to Simulate Cellular Level Changes during Drying of Food Materials

Drying is one of the most energy consuming and complex operations in the food processing sector. Dehydration of food materials often leads to large deformations. To optimise the drying process, the fundamental understanding of the microstructural changes during drying is required (i.e. water transport in cellular level, shrinkage). This study aims to develop a microscale model to accurately describe coupled heat and mass transport at the cellular level as well as to determine cell wall deformation and shrinkage during drying. The model will take the cell size, cell shapes and intercellular space into consideration. The cell will be considered as closed thin wall structure where tension is maintained by the turgor pressure. The cell walls of the adjacent cell will be modelled as non-linear elastic material.

For generating the initial topology of the cellular network, an adaptive Voronoi tessellation algorithm will be formulated. The heat and mass transfer within the microstructure will be accounted as a driving force for heat and mass transfer in the tissue. To find out the water distribution at cell level X ray-micro tomography experiment will be conducted. To find out the cell wall deformation, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) experiment will be done. A statistical comparison will be made between the simulated and the experimental results for the validation purpose. The validated model can be employed for the better optimization of food drying.

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