MadSci Network: Engineering

Re: what do you think could be in the future for microwave ovens?

Date: Mon Oct 1 11:23:58 2001
Posted By: Bernadette Baca, Health Physicist, Division of Reactor Safety
Area of science: Engineering
ID: 1001356013.Eg

I can by no means be considered an "expert" for microwave ovens.  However, 
looking at the current technology and consumer trends, I may be able to 
provide a glimpse of what is in store for the future of microwaves.  

The current status of the microwave oven is one of an indispensable 
household appliance.  It is convenient, energy efficient, and affordable to 
a vast number of the population.  There are so many various sizes of 
microwaves out on the market that the college student to a major restaurant 
has the opportunity to reheat and even cook various food items.  It was not 
that long ago that microwaves were unheard of; but now they play a very 
large part in our daily lives.  

Technology is always looking for ways to improve and advance the current 
state of things.  Recent technology has allowed several cooking/heating 
methods to be combined into one unit.  There are units out in the 
marketplace (mostly professional units, i.e. restaurants) that combine 
microwave and convectional heating and cooking for food.  They are a new 
item, carried by the more elite appliance manufacturers, and are considered 
expensive for the average household.  However, given time, everyone may 
have a dual heating unit instead of "just a microwave".   

There are many studies in the area of food nutrition that seem to conflict 
each other.  Some studies indicate that microwave cooking completely 
destroys the nutritional value of foods while others claim no change to the 
nutritional value.  Until further, more in-depth, and appropriately sized 
studies are performed, there will be conflicting reports.

The safety of the microwave has always been in question.  However, there 
has been no conclusive study to show otherwise and that microwaves are as 
harmless as a haridryer.  However, one can still be hurt if the item is 
abused or misused - melting things you are not supposed to, etc.

I do not foresee a sudden death of microwave ovens - only for them to 
improve and increase in the features they possess.  However, one day, a new 
technological breakthrough may occur that may make microwaves obsolete.  
But until then, I will continue to enjoy my microwave popcorn and TV 

I am not sure what type of quote you are looking for.  A 
professional society or the Federal Food and Drug Administration 
may be able to provide you with the "expert" opinion you seek.  I do have 
some historical, informative, and organizational websites that you may be 
able to find what you are looking for:

American Association of Engineering Societies (you can ask them particular 
microwave questions)

School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Leeds

How Stuff Works

How Things Work - University of Virginia

A Brief History of the Microwave Oven

Center for Devices and Radiological Health

Newton's Apple: Microwave Ovens (good references)

Consumer Search (consumer reports online)

Friedmans Microwave Ovens

Hopefully one or more of these sites will be helpful to you.

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