Cooking Potatoes: Experimentation and Mathematical Modeling


  • Xiao Dong Chen University of Auckland


A simple and cost-effective experiment (cooking potatoes) proposed by Fraser (Chemical Engineering Education, p. 190, 1999) has been adopted as one of the three basic laboratories in a final-year elective course called Food Process Engineering at Auckland University, which assists in introducing food concepts to undergraduate chemical engineering students.  Here, the necessary physics involved in the food has been explored with the students to make the connection between the apparent process (temperature, distance, and time) to the related reactions.  This paper summarizes such a knowledge base.  Furthermore, based upon the understanding developed, this paper presents a fundamental model that is more consistent with the practical situation.  This can form a good basis for future development of a more accurate analytical solution.

Author Biography

Xiao Dong Chen, University of Auckland

Xiao Dong Chen holds a Personal Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Auckland. He graduated with a BE (engineering thermophysics) from Tsinghua University in China in 1987 and received his PhD in chemical and process engineering from Canterbury University in New Zealand in 1991. He is currently president of the Food Engineering Association of New Zealand, leader of the Research Cluster for Food and Bioproduct Processing, and coordinator of the Engineering Biotechnology Laboratories at the university.