Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research UnitTitle: Microwave sensing of quality attributes of agricultural and food products
|NELSON, STUART - Retired ARS Employee|
Submitted to: IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/27/2015
Publication Date: 1/22/2016
Citation: Trabelsi, S., Nelson, S.O. 2016. Microwave sensing of quality attributes of agricultural and food products. IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine. pgs. 36-41.
Interpretive Summary: Highly automated and computerized processes in agricultural and food industries require the development of sensors for continuous measurement and monitoring of quality attributes of agricultural and food products. Microwave dielectric-based sensors are well suited to fulfill such needs because water is a common component of these products, and water has a strong interaction with the electric field at microwave frequencies. Recent advances in calibration methods and availability of reliable and inexpensive microwave components offer an opportunity for the development of a new generation of low-cost microwave sensors for process monitoring and control that will result in significant labor and cost savings in addition to maintaining the desired quality and complying with safety regulations. This is even more relevant in a social and economic environment where consumer awareness is high and new rules and guidelines for labeling and safety standards are put in place. This paper discusses both the development of calibration methods for indirect determination of bulk density and moisture content from measurement of the dielectric properties at a single microwave frequency and development of inexpensive microwave meters for routine characterization of grain, seed, and in-shell peanuts in static and dynamic situations. Accuracy and savings associated with the use of such devices are also covered.
Technical Abstract: Microwave sensors for real-time characterization of agricultural and food products have become viable solutions with recent advances in the development of calibration methods and the availability of inexpensive microwave components. The examples shown here for grain, seed, and in-shell peanuts indicate that the level of accuracy for bulk density and moisture content determination are acceptable, and the gains in terms of labor and energy cost savings are significant. Also, insights in the drying of peanuts were gained through continuous monitoring of environmental conditions and in-shell kernel moisture content, which will provide the basis for sound decisions and improve the quality of the peanuts. Similar results are to be expected in other agricultural and food processes involving the monitoring of several parameters.