A Laboratory IGBT-Based High-voltage Pulsed Electric Field Generator for Effective Water Diffusivity Enhancement in Chicken Meat

Enhancing water diffusivity shortens meat processing time and saves energy and costs. One of the processes that can enhance water diffusivity in tissues is high-voltage, short-pulsed electric fields (PEF). However, for industrial PEF process development, there is a need in adaptable laboratory instruments. Here we report on a laboratory PEF generator, based on insulated-gate monopolar transistor switching, coupled with sliding positive electrode for the enhancement of water diffusivity in chicken breast muscle. The system generates rectangular monopolar pulses with a voltage amplitude up to 1000 V, current up to 160 A, pulse duration of 5 to 100 μs, and a frequency of pulse repetition of 1–16 Hz. The energy conversion efficiency of the developed PEF generator is 88%. We found that applying 120 pulses at 1000 V (~ 500 V mm−1), and a pulse duration of 50 μs at 1 Hz, on the chicken breast muscle, increased the effective diffusivity of water by 13–24% and reduced convective air drying time by 6.4–15.3%. These results provide new information on the design of laboratory equipment to improve and optimize meat pre-processing on a small scale. Flexible, small-scale PEF equipment is a necessary step for the industrial development of new processes which could reduce equipment size and process energy consumption in the meat industry.

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