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Review article2024Peer reviewed

Refractance window drying of food and biological materials: Status on mechanisms, diffusion modelling and hybrid drying approach

Kumar, Manibhushan; Madhumita, Mitali; Prabhakar, Pramod K.; Basu, Santanu


Refractance window (RW) dryer has an immense advantage in terms of final product quality (textural and color attributes, nutrient retention), energy consumption, and drying time over other conventional dryers. RW is a thin film drying system and a technologically evolving drying process. RW drying is an energy-efficient (re-circulation of water) short drying process as the drying of food materials occurs due to a combined mode of heat transfer conduction, radiation, and convection (hot air circulates over film). The high-quality dried product is obtained because the product temperature remains below 80 degrees C. RW dryer application is not only limited to drying food products, but it can also be further used for improving the gelling and emulsion properties, formation of leather and edible film, and can be used for handling high protein products, drying leafy vegetables or marine foods as this process does not change any functional properties. Due to these advantages over other drying techniques, RW drying has gained academic and industrial interest in recent years. The industrial application of this technology at large scale is becoming difficult due because of large surface area requirement for mass production. Researchers are trying to scale-up by combing this technology with others technology (Infrared, ultrasound, solar energy, and osmotic dehydration). RW dryer is now extending from the food sector to other sectors like pharmaceutical, cosmetic, pigment, edible film formation, and encapsulation. Majority of the reviews on RW drying focuses on the product quality aspects. This review paper aims to comprehend the RW drying system more mechanistically to understand better the principles, diffusion models explaining the transfer processes, and emerging novel hybrid drying approaches.


RW dryer; drying rate; diffusion models; thermal efficiency; mechanistic approach; dried product quality

Published in

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
2024, Volume: 64, number: 11, pages: 3458-3481

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Food Engineering

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)