Shikoku Electric Power has been granted a patent for a microwave aging device that aims to reduce the time required for aging food and improve yield rates. The device includes an aging chamber, an irradiation port for microwave irradiation, a blower fan, a cooling chamber, a microwave oscillating unit, and a controller. The aging chamber is located within the cooling chamber, and the interior wall of the aging chamber has minute openings to block microwaves while allowing air to pass through. GlobalData’s report on Shikoku Electric Power gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Shikoku Electric Power, fuel gasification was a key innovation area identified from patents. Shikoku Electric Power's grant share as of June 2023 was 1%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Microwave aging device with cooling chamber and minute openings

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Shikoku Electric Power Co Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11647769B2) describes a microwave aging device and method for aging food using a microwave. The device includes a microwave aging unit with an aging chamber for storing food, an irradiation port for microwave irradiation, and a blower fan for blowing air into the aging chamber. The aging chamber is located within a cooling chamber, and several minute openings are formed in the interior walls of the aging chamber to block microwaves while allowing air to pass through.

The patent claims also mention that the aging chamber can be comprised of multiple chambers, and a controller is provided to control the operation of the microwave oscillating unit. The controller is configured to make the inner temperature of the food higher than the surface temperature during aging. It can automatically control the microwave oscillating unit to maintain the inner temperature of the food at or above 5°C. The cooling unit, which includes a cooler generating cold air, can be automatically controlled by the controller to maintain the surface temperature of the food below 5°C.

Furthermore, the controller can control the microwave oscillating unit, cooler, and blower fan to create a temperature difference of 3°C or more between the surface and inner temperature of the food during aging. The microwave oscillating unit is designed to perform microwave irradiation for one hour or more during aging. The cooling unit may also include a UV lamp in the cooling chamber.

The patent also describes a microwave aging method using the device. The method involves heating the inside of the food through microwave irradiation while simultaneously cooling the surface of the food by blowing cold air. This process results in aging the food, with the inner temperature equal to or higher than 5°C, the surface temperature lower than 5°C, and a temperature difference of 3°C or more between the surface and inner temperature.

The food suitable for this method includes meat, seafood, foodstuffs containing salt (such as ham and cheese), and foodstuffs in a liquid. The liquid can be a liquid without microwave absorption, such as edible vegetable oil.

Overall, this patent presents a microwave aging device and method that allows for controlled aging of food by manipulating temperature differentials using microwave irradiation and cold air blowing.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.