InsideFood Symposium location:Leuven, Belgium date:9-12 April 2013
Dehydration of fruit during postharvest storage decreases its commercial value and the consumer acceptance. Understanding this process requires knowledge on both water transport and mechanical deformation. In this study, a comparison was made between different methods to study water distribution and shrinkage of apple tissue during dehydration: experimentally with quantitative neutron tomography, and numerically with finite element modeling using a nonlinear viscoelastic model coupled with water transport. Both techniques provided three-dimensional information of the transient water distribution and shrinkage of the cylindrical apple tissue during dehydration. The neutron experiments were found to accurately predict the water loss from the samples, when compared to gravimetric measurements, indicating this technique is successful in directly quantifying water content for this type of experiments. The total water loss and local water content of experiments and simulations also compared well, indicating the numerical model is a viable alternative to neutron experiments. This is a particular advantage since access to facilities which produce neutrons is limited.