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1. WO2020162748 - DISPOSITIF ET PROCÉDÉ DE TRAITEMENT THERMIQUE HOMOGÈNE D'UN PRODUIT PAR RADIOFRÉQUENCE

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

CLAIMS:

1. A heat treatment system (1000) comprising a heat treatment apparatus (1) and a product transport system (200), wherein

the heat treatment apparatus (1) comprises (i) a duct (100) having a duct axis (110), wherein the duct (100) is configured for holding a liquid (2), and (ii) an RF heating zone (5) comprising a main electrode (410) and a first counter electrode (420) configured for functionally connecting to an RF generator (400) to generate during operation a first electric field (490) in the duct (100) between the main electrode (410) and the first counter electrode (420) parallel to the duct axis (110),

the product transport system (200) comprises an electric field guiding element (440) comprising an electrically conductive material (401), wherein the electric field guiding element is configured to be electrically insulated from the electrodes (410, 420) during transport through the duct (100),

the product transport system (200) is configured to transport a product (60) and the electric field guiding element (440) through the duct (100).

2. The heat treatment system (1000) according to claim 1, wherein the electric field guiding element (440) comprises a height (443), a width (441), and a thickness (442), wherein the thickness (442) is configured to be arranged parallel to the duct axis (110) during transport through the duct (100), wherein a ratio of the height (443) to the thickness (442) is larger than 2 and wherein a ratio of the width (441) relative to the thickness (442) is larger than 2.

3. The heat treatment system (1000) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein a ratio of a cross-sectional area (448) of the field guiding element (440) which is configured to be arranged perpendicular to the duct axis (110) during transport through the duct (100), relative to an inner cross-sectional area (108) of the duct (100) is selected to be at least 0.5 and to be smaller than 1.

4. The heat treatment system (1000) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the RF heating zone (5) comprises a further counter electrode (430), wherein the further counter electrode (430) and the first counter electrode (420) are arranged at opposite sides of the main electrode (410), wherein the further counter

electrode (430) is configured for functionally coupling to the RF generator (400) to generate during operation a further electric field (495) in the duct (100) between the main electrode (410) and the further counter electrode (430), wherein a direction (497) of the further electric field (495) and a direction (492) of the first electric field (490) are configured opposite to each other.

5. The heat treatment system (1000) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the duct (100) comprises a wall (103) comprising the electrodes (410, 420, 430), and an electrically insulating material (402) configured between the electrodes (410, 420, 430), wherein a shortest distance between the electrodes (410, 420, 430) and the duct axis (110) defines an electrode-to-axis distance (452), wherein the apparatus (1) further comprises a shield (450) configured coaxially to the duct axis (110) around the duct (100) at the RF heating zone (5), wherein a shortest distance between the duct axis (110) and the shield (450) define a shield-to-axis distance (451), and wherein a ratio of the shield-to-axis distance (451) to the electrode-to-axis distance (452) is selected in the range of 2-6.

6. The heat treatment system (1000) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the product transport system (200) comprises a cartridge (600) for transporting the product (60) through the duct (100), wherein the cartridge (600) comprises an assembly of (1) the electric field guiding element (440) and (ii) a product receiver (480) comprising a cavity (485) configured to host the product (60), wherein the product receiver (480) comprising an electrically insulating material (402), wherein the cartridge (600) comprises a cartridge axis (610) configured to be arranged parallel to the duct axis (110) during transport through the duct (100), wherein the electric field guiding element (440) and the product receiver (480) are configured adjacent to each other along the cartridge axis (610).

7. The heat treatment system (1000) according to claim 6, wherein the cartridge (600) comprises a plurality of electric field guiding elements (440) and/or a plurality of product receivers (480), wherein alternately one electric field guiding element (440) and one product receiver (480) are configured adjacent to each other along the cartridge axis (610), wherein the cartridge (600) comprises a liquid channel (150) configured from a first end (601) of the cartridge (600) to a second end (602) of the

cartridge (600) and configured to provide a fluid connection between the one or more cavities (485) and an external of the cartridge (600).

8. The heat treatment system (1000) according to any one of the claims 6-7, wherein the cartridge (600) comprises a plurality of electric field guiding elements (440), wherein a length (415) of the main electrode (410) in a direction parallel to the duct axis (110) is equal to or longer than a shortest distance (615) between two neighboring electric field guiding elements (440).

9. The heat treatment system (1000) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the duct (100) further comprises:

an arrangement of zones comprising a feeding zone (4) configured upstream of the RF heating zone (5), a holding zone (6) configured downstream of the RF heating zone (5), a cooling zone (7) configured downstream of the holding zone (6), and an extraction zone (8) configured downstream of the cooling zone (7),

one or more liquid ports (104) configured in one or more of the zones selected from the feeding zone (4), the RF heating zone (5), the holding zone (6), the cooling zone (7), and the extraction zone (8) for providing liquid (2) to the duct (100) and/or for extracting liquid (2) from the duct (100),

wherein the heat treatment system (1000) is configured for providing a flow direction of the liquid (2) in the duct (100) in a first zone of the respective zones (4, 5, 6, 7, 8), independently from the flow direction of the liquid (2) in another zone of the respective zones (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) by providing liquid (2) to the duct (100) and/or extracting liquid (2) from the duct (100) via one or more of the liquid ports (104).

10. The heat treatment system (1000) according to claim 9 and claim 7, wherein the cartridge (600) comprises an opening (650) configured at an edge (604) of the cartridge (600), configured for receiving the liquid (2) provided via at least one of the liquid ports (104), wherein the opening (650) is configured in fluid connection with the liquid channel (150), wherein the cartridge (600) is configured for receiving liquid (2) provided to the liquid port (104) and directing the liquid (2) through the liquid channel (150) and through one or more of the cavities (485) in cartridge (600) along one or more products (60) hosted by the cartridge (600).

11. The heat treatment system (1000) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the electric field guiding element (440) comprises a field-incoupling element (444) configured to deflect at least part of the first electric field (490) towards the product (60) during transport of the product (60) through the RF heating zone (5) and/or to deflect at least part of the further electric field (495) towards the product (60) during transport of the product (60) through the RF heating zone (5).

12. A cartridge (600) for transporting a product (60) through a duct (100) of a heat treatment apparatus (1) comprising an electric field (490) generated in the duct (100) by an RF generator (400), wherein the cartridge (600) comprises an assembly of (i) an electric field guiding element (440) comprising an electrically conductive material (401), and (ii) a product receiver (480) comprising an electrically insulating material (402), wherein the product receiver (480) comprises a cavity (485) to host the product (60), wherein the cartridge (600) comprises a liquid channel (150) providing a fluid connection between the cavity (485) and an external of the cartridge (600).

13. The cartridge (600) according to claim 12, wherein the cartridge (600) comprises a cartridge axis (610) configured to be arranged parallel to a duct axis (110) of the duct (100) during transport through the duct (100), wherein the electric field guiding element (440) and the product receiver (480) are configured adjacent to each other along the cartridge axis (610), wherein the cartridge (600) comprises a plurality of electric field guiding elements (440) and/or a plurality of product receivers (480), wherein alternately one electric field guiding element (440) and one product receiver (480) are configured adjacent to each other along the cartridge axis (610), wherein the liquid channel (150) is configured to provide a fluid connection from a first end (601) of the cartridge (610) to a second end (602) of the cartridge (600).

14. The cartridge (600) according to claim 13, wherein a ratio of a maximum cross-sectional area (648) of the cartridge (600) to an inner cross-sectional area (108) of the duct (100) is selected to be smaller than 1 and at least 0.8, wherein the cartridge comprises an alignment element (607) for aligning the cartridge axis (610) with the duct axis (110) and a sealing element (606) configured for blocking a liquid (2) flow along an outer surface (481) of the cartridge (600) from the first end (601) of the cartridge (600) to the second end (602) of the cartridge (600) during transport through the duct (100),

wherein the cartridge (600) further comprises an opening (650) configured at an edge (604) of the cartridge (600), configured for receiving liquid (2) provided via a liquid port (104) in the duct (100), wherein the opening (650) is configured in fluid connection with the liquid channel (150).

15. The cartridge (600) according to claim any of the claims 12-14, wherein the electric field guiding element (440) comprises a field-incoupling element (444) configured to deflect at least part of the electric field (490) towards the product (60) during transport of the product (60) through the RF heating zone (5).

16. A method for heat-treating a product (60), wherein the method comprises: transporting the product (60) and an electric field guiding element (440) through an RF heating zone (5) in a duct (100) along a duct axis (110) of the duct (100), wherein the duct (100) comprises a liquid (2), and

generating an electric field (490) in the duct (100) between a main electrode (410) and at least one counter electrode (420) parallel to the duct axis (110),

wherein the RF heating zone (5) comprises the main electrode (410) and the counter electrode (420), wherein the electric field guiding element (440) comprises an electrically conductive material (401), wherein the electric field guiding element (440) is electrically isolated from the electrodes (410, 420) during transport through the duct (100).

17. The method according to claim 16, comprising:

transporting a cartridge (600) through the RF heating zone (5) in the duct (100), along the duct axis (110), while generating the electric field (490) in the duct (100) between the main electrode (410) and the at least one counter electrode (420) parallel to the duct axis (110), wherein a cartridge axis (610) of the cartridge (600) is arranged parallel to the duct axis (110),

wherein the cartridge (600) comprises an assembly of (i) the electric field guiding element (440) and (ii) a product receiver (480) comprising an electrically insulating material (402), wherein the product receiver (480) comprises a cavity (485) hosting the product (60) and configured in fluid connection with the liquid (2) in the duct (100), wherein the electric field guiding element (440) and the product receiver (480) are configured adjacent to each other along the duct axis (110).

18. The method according to any of the claims 16-17, further comprising: providing a flow of the liquid (2) in the duct (100) wherein the flow comprises a flow direction, wherein the flow direction is independently selected from a direction of the transport of the product (60) through the RF heating zone (5) in the duct (100).

19. The method according to any of the claims 16-18, wherein the duct (100) comprises:

an arrangement of zones comprising a feeding zone (4) configured upstream of the RF heating zone (5), a holding zone (6) configured downstream of the RF heating zone (5), a cooling zone (7) configured downstream of the holding zone (6), and an extraction zone (8) configured downstream of the cooling zone (7),

one or more liquid ports (104) configured in one or more of the zones selected from the feeding zone (4), the RF heating zone (5), the holding zone (6), the cooling zone (7), and the extraction zone (8),

wherein the method comprises:

transporting the product (60) and the electric field guiding element (440) from the feeding zone (4) to the cooling zone (7) along the duct axis (110),

wherein the method further comprises:

providing a direction of a flow of the liquid (2) in the duct (100) in one or more of the respective zones (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) by providing liquid (2) to the duct (100) and/or extracting liquid (2) from the duct (100) via one or more of the liquid ports (104), wherein the liquid (2) is directed via a liquid channel (150) in the cartridge (600) along the product (60) hosted in the cavity (485), wherein an opening (605) in the cartridge (600) configured at an edge (604) of the cartridge (600) provides a fluid connection between the liquid channel (150) and the one or more of the liquid ports (104), wherein the direction of the flow of the liquid (2) in the duct (100) in any of the respective zones (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) is selected independently from the direction of the transport of the product through the duct (100).