Figure 6 (Top) shows two different waveguides designed for 2450 MHZ microwaves (household microwaves); and 915MHZ (industrial microwaves). The use of elbows and sweeps or flexible waveguides add significant cost when the vessel location is not easily accessible. 3-D printed waveguides can help to custom manufacture waveguides in any configuration making assembly and maintenance easier. Figure 7 shows a 3-D metallic waveguide model with bends and sweeps.

Potential for future improvements The use of microwaves to heat products rapidly has proven practical. There is a need for cooling thick products like greases faster than the current method of using chilled water in the vessel’s jackets. New technologies are being explored as alternatives to the use of water.

One promising technology is the magnetocaloric cooling technology. It relies on heat absorption of select materials when those materials are exposed to magnetic fields. Commercial wine coolers using magnetocaloric technology are on the market and larger systems are being developed. This technology would still require water or a liquid to remove the heat from magnetocaloric material. But it could eliminate the conventional compressors and expanders and offers promise for the use of electromagnetic applied cooling, which is beyond the scope of this paper.

Conclusions An accidental fire in the ELM biobased grease plant led to the search and discovery of the microwave use for processing grease. The invention of microwave processing technique described here is analogous to the current rapid and on-going transformation of the automobile power plants from the internal combustion engines to electric motors. The heat transfer oil systems, like internal combustion engines, are well known and technologically mature.


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But they are inherently inefficient and require expensive jacketed reaction vessels and extensive fire suppression systems. The utilisation of the magnetic fields of radio waves for the process industry is in its early stages with only a decade of production history. But it presents a transformational technology that could improve product quality while reducing energy requirements. In time, the energy requirements for processing products worldwide could be reduced by as much as 67% with the widespread use of microwaves for processing products. The simpler and less expensive process vessels could reduce required capital expenditures.

The faster and more uniform heating of the product results in significantly less damage to the base vegetable oil as observed in the lighter colour of the final product. In the case of bio-based greases, alongside performance the cost has been one of the most important barriers to their wider market acceptability.

The new heating technology has helped to remove those barriers to the market growth of bio-based products that is also transforming the grease use in environmentally sensitive applications.

The new improvements as described have made this technology useable universally beyond the bio-based products. It is certain that beyond the known processes of cooking ketchup or dairy products, for example and or heating for reaction in making soap and grease, there are numerous other uses that are yet to be identified with the wider adoption of this technology.




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