Send Us Feedback

Interactive Technology Portal
From Food Tech Innovation Portal

Pulsed electric field food cooking


Key words Pulsed electric field cooking, e-cooking, PEF food preparation
Latest version 2013/01/16
Completed by DIL

How does it work?

Primary objective Quick food preparation using electric pulses and a slight increase in product temperature
Working principle PEF ( Pulsed Electric Fields) requires short bursts of electric power on the food placed between electrodes (2). The application of PEF causes a slight increase in product temperature dependent on the energy input which in comparison to thermal processing is quite low (60-80°C) and in general will not affect the functional and nutritional value (e.g. vitamin content) of the food in contrast to higher temperatures applied in traditional cooking (3). The process of cooking using PEF technology is based on another principle in comparison to thermal cooking. Thermal heating always includes a temperature gradient, which causes areas of high temperature at the surface resulting in an overtreatment, Using PEF for cooking, the applied energy causes a temperature increase, which is a volumetric heating. Areas of high temperatures on the surface and the related long temperature holding time can be avoided by using PEF for cooking.

Due to the heat and the electric pulses, the vegetative microorganisms in the food are inactivated (1). Compared to a thermal pasteurization process, the same shelf life can be achieved, but using a lower temperature and a shorter time. The process can be used for liquids, also containing particles. Field strength of about 20 kV/cm depending on the product and 3.000 to 6.000 very short pulses (microseconds) results in a slight increase of temperature and a decrease of processing time. In comparison to a thermal process (e.g. UHT/HTST), the processing time can be decreased depending on the temperature/holding of the thermal process.

Additional effects Pasteurization, softening the texture, leakage of the cellular contents and more flavor retention in comparison to thermal methods
Important process parameters
  • temperature
  • pulse shape (square wave pulses are most effective)
  • electric field strength
  • specific energy
  • treatment time
Important product parameters
  • conductivity
  • composition
  • pH value
  • water activity

What can it be used for?

Products Meat, fish and vegetable products.
Operations Processing, preparation, cooking, heating
Solutions for short comings • Microbiologically safe PEF processing

• Reduction in spoiling food

• Reduction in energy use

What can it NOT be used for?

Products In case of application in solid foods, it should be floating in a liquid medium. Additionally the food product size should be appropriate for the device capacity (at the moment 60 ml).
Operations Limited inactivation of enzymes
Other limitations Investment and maintenance cost.
Risks or hazards Electrode erosion


Maturity The commercially available unit has a working volume of 60 ml, but other sizes may be possible in the future.
Modularity /Implementation Processing in a range of seconds to minutes
Consumer aspects Accepted as environmental friendly, but consumer are slightly scared, when they hear the product has been treated by pulsed electric field (because of the electricity)[3,4]
Legal aspects
  • US: FDA letter of no objection (1996)
  • EU: According to available scientific papers: no novel food approval required
Environmental aspects Energy-efficient, waste-free technique

Further Information

Institutes Wageningen UR - FBR
Companies IXL Netherland
References 1. U. Zimmermann, Electrical breakdown, electropermeabilization and electrofusion, 1986; Reviews of physiology biochemistry and pharmacology,105, 175–256.

2. S.Toepfl, V.Heinz and D. Knorr, Impact of temperature on lethality and energy efficiency of apple juice pasteurization by pulsed electric fields treatment, 2003; Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 4; 167–175.

3. Olsen, N.V., Klaus Grunert, Anne-Mette Sonne, Jul.2010. Consumer acceptance of high-pressure processing and pulsed-electric field: a review. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 21 (2010), 464-472.

4. Nielsen, H.B., Sonne, A.-M., Grunert, K.G., Banati, D., Pollák-Tóth, A., Lakner, Z., Olsen, N.V., Žontar, T.P., Peterman, M., Consumer perception of the use of high-pressure processing and pulsed electric field technologies in food production, Appetite 52 (2009) 115–126.

  • temperature
  • pulse shape (square wave pulses are most effective)
  • electric field strength
  • specific energy
  • treatment timewarning.png"<span></span>
  • temperature
  • pulse shape (square wave pulses are most effective)
  • electric field strength
  • specific energy
  • treatment time" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

  • conductivity
  • composition
  • pH value
  • water activitywarning.png"<span></span>
  • conductivity
  • composition
  • pH value
  • water activity" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

PEF equipment 2.1.1 physical stabilizing, structure forming other WikiSysop :Template:Review document :Template:Review status

Translate this page with Google Translator (automatic translation)
Created by Claudia Siemer on 17 January 2013, at 15:44