Bringing the Digital Age to Frozen Foods

A Common Problem

A recently published study by NRDC(1) stated that U.S. households waste approximately 20% by weight, of purchased food, representing 43% of total food loss in the U.S. This occurs in spite of the fact that freezing food can help significantly reduce food waste in homes by effectively stopping the process of degradation of the food, which then leads to spoilage and waste (AFFI Food Waste Resources). So why don’t we freeze more of our food if it has limited shelf life? Common responses reflect frustration with the act of thawing frozen food taking a long time, requiring frequent attention to monitor its progress, or poor results such as hot and cold spots and moisture loss when using a microwave oven. In addition, this same set of challenges exist in the restaurant and commercial kitchen market where the inventory levels, kitchen operating efficiency, menu planning, and food waste can all have a direct and significant impact on the profitability of the restaurant, its floor space, and its capital budget.

A Common Problem Solved

At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), NXP has announced the availability of our smart defrost solution reference design. The reference design consists of the RF control module, a smart tuning unit, electrodes, and a cavity for holding the food being thawed. NXP RF and microcontroller products are used in the bill of material to perform the essential and unique functions of creating the warming energy and processing all the control functionality during the thawing process continuously, and in real time. Customers need only supply the main appliance controller, power supply unit and any mechanical supporting items required for their implementation.

The RF control module programmatically creates and controls the delivery of warming energy and works together with the smart tuning unit to deliver maximum energy to the food being thawed. The warming energy is delivered to the food in the cavity through the electrodes mounted inside the cavity. The warming energy is able to pass completely through the frozen food, which helps make the temperature increase even and thorough. As the energy passes through the food, energy is absorbed and the food temperature rises. The process is monitored continuously and adapts when conditions require operating changes to achieve desired results such as fast thawing and minimum moisture loss.

What Does NXP Offer?

NXP is offering the smart defrost solution as a licensed reference design to OEMs as a way to reduce their time-to-market. In addition, NXP has licensed partner-suppliers to enable them to offer sub-systems of the smart defrost solution for sale to the OEM in the event OEMs choose to source, rather than produce their own sub-systems. The solution is capable of being implemented in different form factors, giving OEMs flexibility depending on use cases. Manufacturers can integrate the NXP smart defrost reference design with refrigerators and ovens or design as a countertop appliance.

Benefits

The smart defrost solution from NXP delivers numerous end-user benefits including the following:

  • Convenience – fast thawing and automated operation alleviate the user from constant monitoring and provides the opportunity for high quality, thaw on demand capability
  • High Quality – delivering even temperatures throughout the thawed food
  • Healthy Results – low moisture loss which is critical for nutrition retention
  • Economical – helping reduce food spoilage by eliminating the bottleneck and inconvenience of thawing processes thus encouraging greater use of frozen foods
  • Consistency and Reliability – solid state energy solutions do not degrade with use and deliver consistent, reliable results

In addition, appliance OEMs benefit from the NXP smart defrost reference design solution:

  • Differentiation – the opportunity to integrate automated thawing functionality into appliance platforms or create new appliance products
  • Reduced Time-to-Market – through use of NXP’s reference design solution

For more information, visit us at www.nxp.com/SmartDefrost.

References:

  1. “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill”, The Natural Resources Defense Council, August 2017.
Dan Viza
Dan Viza
Dan Viza is the Global Marketing Manager for NXP's RF Cooking business. NXP delivers semiconductor-based cooking solutions that enable OEMs to create entirely new appliances that deliver chef-quality results with convenience, through real time, closed loop solid state RF cooking with interfaces to the cloud. Dan earned an engineering degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and his MBA from the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

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