System and Method to Deliver Non-Thermal Microwave Energy to Food, Chemicals, and Tissues


Researchers at the University of Guelph have developed a novel microwave system for use in medical therapies, chemical manufacturing, food processing, and food or tissue decontamination. The system delivers non-thermal microwave energy pulses to a target while simultaneously cooling/maintaining a target at a fixed temperature.

The microwave energy can be delivered in or out of phase, and in combination with ion or ionizing photon-based technologies to create additive effects on the target material.

For medical applications the microwave energy is modulated to control tissue damage to the target material and diminish the effect to collateral ttisue, thereby increasing the locational specificity of the procedure, applicable to treating cancer. This should allow for safe simultaneous microwave and ionizing beam irradiation of a target.

For industrial applications, a conveyor system can be used to flow target materials through a microwave cavity cooler by either liquid or gas media in real time. For industrial chemical processing, non-thermal microwave energy can be delivered to substrates to enhance chemical reactions which are sensitive to thermal increases. 

For food applications, microwave pulses under temperature control can be used to disinfect foods by delivering electromagnetic fields to food without heating or cooking. Pulsed electromagnetic fields can also reduce microbial/pathogen load in food without a change in temperature. Or for solid food, a multi-pronged metal antenna (needles) can be used to both deliver microwave energy and provide contact cooling to the food target.

Advantages and Applications

  • Research tool: Use microwave + ion beam instruments to study the effects of electromagnetic fields of microwave energy in aqueous solutions at any temperature.
  • Chemical Industru: Enhance chemical reactions by delivering electrical and magnetic fields to target materials without changes in temperature and even at very low ambient temperatures.
  • Food Processing: Improve food characteristics (shelf life, organoleptic) without thermally changing food properties.
  • Medical Treatment: Potential modality for treating cancer using microwave ablation with controlled temperature and energy penetration.


Research Status: On-going, proof of concept completed.

Development Status: Laboratory tests at TRL-3. Scale up and validation of practical prototypes still required.

Patent Status: Pending in US 16/487,625 and CA 3,090,752.

License Status: Available for licensing and co-development research collaborations.


Afaghi, P., Lapolla, M.A. & Ghandi, K. Denaturation of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein under non-thermal microwave raditiona. Sci Rep 11, 23373 (2021).

Antonio de la Hoz et al. 2005, Microwaves in organic synthesis. Therman and non-thermal microwave effects, Chem. Soc. Rev., 164-178.

Dudley et al. 2015. On the existence of and mechanism for microwave-specific reaction rate enhancement. Chem. Sci. 6(4): 2144.


David Hobson, Manager, Technology Transfer & Entrepreneurship,, 519-824-4120 Ext. 58859