Special Edition: Alternatives to carbon heavy processes

New technologies can slash bakers’ energy usage and cooking times - research

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Baking

A novel combination of microwave and infrared heating technologies can drastically cut energy usage and cooking times during bread production, according to the results of a new Swedish-based project.

In the first part of FoodProductionDaily’s special edition on alternatives to carbon heavy processes, Birgitta Raaholt, the LISS project leader, talks about the benefits of these new baking technologies and how bakery manufacturers can get involved in the​project’s developments.

Energy savings

Within the bakery industry there is enormous potential for increasing competitiveness by reducing the energy used when baking bread, biscuits and cakes,​said project coordinator Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK).

The project “Energy-efficient baking,” has developed various calculation models for process optimisation and energy savings through modelling combined with series of industrial-scale trials.

For plain bread, cooking times can be reduced to less than half through the combination of microwaves and infrared technologies, said the research institute.

High product quality and the opportunity to increase production capacity are other benefits of these new methods, Raaholt​told FoodProductionDaily.com.

In addition, greater flexibility can be achieved due to the reduced cooking times, she said.

Next step

Whereas the first stage of the project focused on gaining technical knowledge about the cooking alternatives, SIK is now embarking on the second stage of the project. This will involve building pilot-scale equipment for combined microwave-infrared baking, in collaboration with bakery manufacturers and equipment suppliers who are invited to participate in the next stage.

Technology reviewed in the first trials will be transferred to pilot-scale at SIK's facilities during the second stage, said Raaholt.

The results will then be compared on an industrial scale and will involve evaluation of shortened baking times, reduced energy consumption and quality of baked bread, she said.

Initial trials

The projects’ initial results were presented at an open SIK seminar last March following lab-scale trials at the SIK test bakery in Göteborg Sweden.

The combinations of microwave-infrared baking and microwave-forced convection baking on rolls and loaves were evaluated during the trials.

Cost savings were examined in relation to production capacity, such as the volume of bread produced per hour.

Three lines were studied at participating bakery companies. One had a full industrial scale production capacity of 1.5 tonnes per hour, the other had a three tonnes capacity and a third line with a production capacity between the two others.

Simulation tools were also developed through the trials, said SIK. These tools are useful for calculating the effect of different processing settings on temperature development and water distribution in the bread during baking.


The Swedish Board of Agriculture has helped to finance the project along with five Swedish companies; two within bread production and three within equipment manufacturing.

Bakers interested in taking part in the next stage of the project can contact Birgitta Raaholt at oe@fvx.fr

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