• transport;
  • energy;
  • heat transfer;
  • mathematical modeling;
  • numerical solution

A detailed analysis has been carried out by solving coupled energy and mass balance equations along with Helmholtz equation of microwave propagation to investigate the role of microwave heating strategies in enhancing the progress of a first-order endothermic reaction in “thin,” “intermediate,” and “thick” regimes of microwave heating. It has been shown that heating strategy plays a critical role in maximizing the efficiency of microwave heated reactors, where progress of reactor can be greatly accelerated at a given input power by either configuring microwave sources at both sides of the reactor or preferentially focusing them on one side. A series of master curves have been provided showing percentage saving of reaction time in various configurations of microwave heated reactors compared to their conventional counterparts, which can be efficiently used to select appropriate heating strategy for different dimension and dielectric properties of the reacting medium. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 656–670, 2013