Estimating the Thermal Properties of Foods from Their Moisture Contents

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This Demonstration calculates five thermal properties of a food as a function of its moisture content (as a percentage on a wet basis). It only provides realistic estimates for foods that consist primarily of water and carbohydrates, protein, etc. It should not be used to compute the properties of foods that consist primarily of salt and/or fat, or, in the case of thermal conductivity, liquid and solid foams that contain large amounts of air.

Contributed by: Mark D. Normand and Micha Peleg (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Snapshot 1: thermal properties of a dry food (e.g., grain having 10% moisture)

Snapshot 2: thermal properties of a moist food (50% moisture)

Snapshot 3: thermal properties of a fruit juice (90% moisture)

Snapshot 4: thermal properties of pure water


above the freezing point = ,

below the freezing point = ,

where the first term represents the properties of water or ice and the second those of the solid components such as carbohydrates or protein.

Reference: R. L. Earle with M. D. Earle, Unit Operations in Food Processing, NZIFST, Inc., 1983.

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