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Finite element (GFEM) simulations on the effect of microwave heating for lossy dielectric samples with various shapes (circle, square and triangle)

Tanmay Basak (Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India)

International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow

ISSN: 0961-5539

Article publication date: 21 February 2020

Issue publication date: 25 August 2020




This paper aims to investigate the thermal performance involving larger heating rate, targeted heating, heating with least non-uniformity of the spatial distribution of temperature and larger penetration of heating within samples vs shapes of samples (circle, square and triangular).


Galerkin finite element method (GFEM) with adaptive meshing in a composite domain (free space and sample) is used in an in-house computer code. The finite element meshing is done in a composite domain involving triangle embedded within a semicircular hypothetical domain. The comparison of heating pattern is done for various shapes of samples involving identical cross-sectional area. Test cases reveal that triangular samples can induce larger penetration of heat and multiple heating fronts. A representative material (beef) with high dielectric loss corresponding to larger microwave power or heat absorption in contrast to low lossy samples is considered for the current study. The average power absorption within lossy samples has been computed using the spatial distribution and finite element basis sets. Four regimes have been selected based on various local maxima of the average power for detailed investigation. These regimes are selected based on thin, thick and intermediate limits of the sample size corresponding to the constant area of cross section, Ac involving circle or square or triangle.


The thin sample limit (Regime 1) corresponds to samples with spatially invariant power absorption, whereas power absorption attenuates from exposed to unexposed faces for thick samples (Regime 4). In Regimes 2 and 3, the average power absorption non-monotonically varies with sample size or area of cross section (Ac) and a few maxima of average power occur for fixed values of Ac involving various shapes. The spatial characteristics of power and temperature have been critically analyzed for all cross sections at each regime for lossy samples. Triangular samples are found to exhibit occurrence of multiple heating fronts for large samples (Regimes 3 and 4).

Practical implications

Length scales of samples of various shapes (circle, square and triangle) can be represented via Regimes 1-4. Regime 1 exhibits the identical heating rate for lateral and radial irradiations for any shapes of lossy samples. Regime 2 depicts that a larger heating rate with larger temperature non-uniformity can occur for square and triangular-Type 1 lossy sample during lateral irradiation. Regime 3 depicts that the penetration of heat at the core is larger for triangular samples compared to circle or square samples for lateral or radial irradiation. Regime 4 depicts that the penetration of heat is still larger for triangular samples compared to circular or square samples. Regimes 3 and 4 depict the occurrence of multiple heating fronts in triangular samples. In general, current analysis recommends the triangular samples which is also associated with larger values of temperature variation within samples.


GFEM with generalized mesh generation for all geometries has been implemented. The dielectric samples of any shape are surrounded by the circular shaped air medium. The unified mesh generation within the sample connected with circular air medium has been demonstrated. The algorithm also demonstrates the implementation of various complex boundary conditions in residuals. The numerical results compare the heating patterns for all geometries involving identical areas. The thermal characteristics are shown with a few generalized trends on enhanced heating or targeted heating. The circle or square or triangle (Type 1 or Type 2) can be selected based on specific heating objectives for length scales within various regimes.



The author would like to thank anonymous reviewer for critical comments, which improved the quality of the manuscript.


Basak, T. (2020), "Finite element (GFEM) simulations on the effect of microwave heating for lossy dielectric samples with various shapes (circle, square and triangle)", International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow, Vol. 30 No. 10, pp. 4661-4696.



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