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Infrared-based heating is known to deliver higher heat fluxes compared with conventional convective heated air. The high heat flux causes a rapid temperature rise in heated products, and hence has been reported to reduce significantly the thermal processing time of foods. However, for the technology to be successfully developed and commercialized in the food industry, it is vital that relevant processing applications be optimized for energy use efficiency and improved product quality and safety. In the past two decades, researchers have made significant progress in elucidating the mechanism of infrared heating of food products and interactions between infrared radiation and food components. The design and development of new infrared emitters have continued to advance processing efficiency. The potential to use selected infrared wavelengths and optimize wavelength interactions with biological materials for specialized food processing is gaining attention; this is poised to make the technology versatile and attractive for processing unique products. This chapter introduces infrared-based heating technology, documents underlying engineering principles of the technology, and illustrates, by highlighting recent case studies, the status of the technology with emphasis on grain processing-related applications. The information presented is expected to be of great value to grain processing engineers, quality control and safety managers, educators, and researchers.

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