Advancing the fundamental science and application of technologies to ensure safety and improve quality of food products. <OL type="a"> <LI> Utilize innovative methods to characterize food materials. <LI> Develop mathematical models to enhance understanding of, and, optimize food processes.
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Vitamins and antioxidants are bioactive components that reduce cholesterol levels, decrease early atherosclerosis, and prevent heart disease and cancer. My research provides insights into innovative methods of nanoencapsulation of bioactive components with the goal of enhancing the functionality and/or bioavailability of the delivered bioactive component. Conventional thermal treatments have long been used for pasteurization and sterilization of liquid products. However, traditional thermal treatments using steam and heat exchangers provide low energy densities, resulting in slow, uneven heating. Alternatively, microwave heating provides extremely fast heating rates due to high energy densities delivered to a relatively small volume of product. Microwave heating requires less floor space and if properly controlled, avoids overheating at the surface and under-heating at the core by generating a uniform temperature within the material. Rigorous numerical modeling of continuous microwave heating by coupling and simultaneously solving three sets of equations (Maxwell's equations, Fourier's energy balance equation, and Navier-Stokes equation) is critically needed to throughly describe the process.
APPROACH: Objectives 1 and 1a: Different methods will be used to form polymeric nanoparticles of importance to food safety and food quality. Polymeric nanoparticles with entrapped bioactives (i.e. antioxidants, vitamins) will be characterized and tested for their ability to improve bioavailability of the entrapped bioactive. Objective 1c. Numerical modeling will be performed to understand the process of continuos flow microwave heating, by coupling fluid flow with heat transfer and high frequency electromagnetism.