Digital twin model microwave food processing

Digital twin modelling for optimisation of MATS microwave assisted food sterilisation processing

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

This research is to develop a digital twin computer simulation of the interaction of microwave and thermal energy on the heating of food products as they pass through a MATS microwave assisted thermal sterilisation system. The model will use a finite-element analysis approach utilising engineering modelling software accounting for spatial variation in the electric field due to resonance and phase interactions as well as the thermal capacitance and thermal conductivity properties of the foods. The purpose is to predict the heating patterns of packaged foods of varying shapes and dielectric properties as a function of the applied microwave radiation volumetric heating and hot water thermal conductive heating.

The research will require a review of the engineering software options for modelling such as a comparison of ComsolTM with QuickwaveTM for an evaluation of calculation efficiency, speed and utility for the analysis and the potential for using Artificial Neural Networks to learn from the results to produce a fast and easy-to-use tools for industry applications. Developed predictive models will then be tested using a MATS pilot plant to compare actual and predicted heating patterns under different processing conditions.

This research is to broaden the economic base from food exports by producing higher value shelf stable ready meals that can be exported without refrigeration. Each food product behaves differently with microwaves generating  the potential for hot spot burning at the high energy input levels required for rapid throughput of product in a continuous microwave processing system.  A digital twin model is therefore a critical step towards optimising large scale manufacturing of heat sterilised products using MATS by enabling advance design and process optimisation studies to be conducted virtually in advance of experimental engineering. Graduates in this field will be skilled in predictive modelling and optimisation engineering for a career in applying Industry 4.0 technologies.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Andrew Chan


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Higher degree in a relevant aspect of engineering
  • Demonstrated skill in advanced computing and modelling

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Currently domiciled in Australia
  • Australian residency or citizenship
  • Research publication record

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Andrew Chan to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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