Prediction of water loss and viscoelastic deformation of apple tissue using a multiscale model

Wondwosen A. Aregawi, Metadel K. Abera, Solomon W. Fanta, Pieter Verboven, Bart Nicolai

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27 Scopus citations


A two-dimensional multiscale water transport and mechanical model was developed to predict the water loss and deformation of apple tissue (Malus × domestica Borkh. cv. 'Jonagold') during dehydration. At the macroscopic level, a continuum approach was used to construct a coupled water transport and mechanical model. Water transport in the tissue was simulated using a phenomenological approach using Fick's second law of diffusion. Mechanical deformation due to shrinkage was based on a structural mechanics model consisting of two parts: Yeoh strain energy functions to account for non-linearity and Maxwell's rheological model of visco-elasticity. Apparent parameters of the macroscale model were computed from a microscale model. The latter accounted for water exchange between different microscopic structures of the tissue (intercellular space, the cell wall network and cytoplasm) using transport laws with the water potential as the driving force for water exchange between different compartments of tissue. The microscale deformation mechanics were computed using a model where the cells were represented as a closed thin walled structure. The predicted apparent water transport properties of apple cortex tissue from the microscale model showed good agreement with the experimentally measured values. Deviations between calculated and measured mechanical properties of apple tissue were observed at strains larger than 3%, and were attributed to differences in water transport behavior between the experimental compression tests and the simulated dehydration-deformation behavior. Tissue dehydration and deformation in the high relative humidity range ( > 97% RH) could, however, be accurately predicted by the multiscale model. The multiscale model helped to understand the dynamics of the dehydration process and the importance of the different microstructural compartments (intercellular space, cell wall, membrane and cytoplasm) for water transport and mechanical deformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number464111
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 19 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • diffusion
  • nonlinear mechanics
  • plant tissue
  • turgor


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