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Experimental and Numerical Evaluations on Palm Microwave Heating for Red Palm Weevil Pest Control

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Experimental and Numerical Evaluations on Palm Microwave Heating for Red Palm Weevil Pest Control

Rita Massa et al. Sci Rep.

Abstract

The invasive Red Palm Weevil is the major pest of palms. Several control methods have been applied, however concern is raised regarding the treatments that can cause significant environmental pollution. In this context the use of microwaves is particularly attractive. Microwave heating applications are increasingly proposed in the management of a wide range of agricultural and wood pests, exploiting the thermal death induced in the insects that have a thermal tolerance lower than that of the host matrices. This paper describes research aiming to combat the Red Palm pest using microwave heating systems. An electromagnetic-thermal model was developed to better control the temperature profile inside the palm tissues. In this process both electromagnetic and thermal parameters are involved, the latter being particularly critical depending on plant physiology. Their evaluation was carried out by fitting experimental data and the thermal model with few free parameters. The results obtained by the simplified model well match with both that of a commercial software 3D model and measurements on treated Phoenix canariensis palms with a ring microwave applicator. This work confirms that microwave heating is a promising, eco-compatible solution to fight the spread of weevil.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Experimental set-up to estimate the thermal parameters; (a) the palm is radiated by a WR340 waveguide connected to a microwave applicator; the incident power is measured by a circulator connected to a power meter; (b) the temperature in two points inside the palm is measured using an optical fiber thermometer.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Comparison of the calculated and measured time behavior of the temperature during heating (left) and cooling (right).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Validation of the custom FDTD thermal model by comparison of 1D code and HFSS 3D simulations showing the heating (red and green curves) and cooling (blue and cyan curves) process of a healthy palm (24 cm diameter, 40 cm height) microwave treated for 30 min and monitored for 60 min.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Simulation of the microwave heating of a 50 cm diameter palm for 30 (a) and 45 (b) minutes; the black curve indicates a temperature of 55 °C.
Figure 5
Figure 5
The ring applicator; (a) Ecopalm Ring patented by BIELLE surrounding the palm in closed position (by courtesy of BIELLE srl); (b) cut palm during just after treatment, the applicator is in the open position; (c) thermogram acquisition.
Figure 6
Figure 6
Temperature distribution in a section of a palm after microwave treatment: immediately after irradiation (above) and after about 1 hour from the end of the irradiation (below). The numerical results are on the left (axes in cm, temperature scale in Celsius degrees), the experimental results on the right (axes in mm, temperature scale in Celsius degrees).
Figure 7
Figure 7
(a) Comparison of the time behavior of the temperature for three different palms with the proposed model; (b) one of the treated palms.

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