Water transport in cellular tissues during thermal processing



Accurate modeling of water transport in food materials requires knowledge of how transport properties depend on the material structure. Water transport in a cellular tissue depends on its pathway (intracellular versus extracellular), which in turn depends on temperature. Using a combination of permeability measurement, pore-size distribution analysis and bioimpedance analysis, it is shown that water in a cellular tissue (e.g., potatoes) is mostly intracellular at lower temperatures at which cell membranes are intact. During drying at high-temperatures, cell membranes in potatoes are damaged, and the moisture transport pathway is primarily extracellular (through intercellular spaces and the lacunae created by the killed cells), with a much lower resistance to water transport. The difference in moisture diffusivity in potatoes for the two pathways has been estimated to be three orders of magnitude. Therefore, transport properties measured or predicted at low temperatures cannot be used for high temperatures because they correspond to different moisture migration pathways. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2011