Ice Crystal Sizes and Their Impact on Microwave Assisted Freeze Drying

Hongwei Wu, Z Tao, P Gao, G Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Freeze drying of an aqueous solution would result in the non-uniform distribution of solute concentration. Because ice is almost transparent to microwave, therefore such a non-uniform distribution may affect the microwave assisted freeze drying. The direct observation of the ice crystals formed under microscope reveals that the ice crystal sizes formed from de-ionized water depend on the cooling rate with fast cooling rate giving smaller ice crystals as expected. Once there is a sufficient amount of solute mixed with the de-ionized water, for example the reactive red, the size and its distribution are not very much dependent on either cooling rate or the final temperature provided there is sufficient time of cooling and the final temperature is not too low. The size of ice crystals formed within the solution of reactive red is usually below 100 μm with a freezing rate of 1°C·min-1 for a droplet of the size of less than 1 mm. A simplified simulation indicates that such a small ice crystal would not cause a significant non-uniform distribution of temperature for microwave assisted freeze drying. When the ice crystal size is larger than 5 mm, heat conduction from the solute concentrated region to the ice region may need to be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-835
Number of pages5
JournalChinese Journal of Chemical Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2004


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