Eleanor R. Adair, 86, Microwave Proponent

That was the headline in the NY Times obituary on May 6 for a great lady, leading researcher, courageous defender of microwaves and true friend of IMPI. In an extensive interview in the Times in 2001, Dr. Adair, or Ellie, as known to friends, defended microwave ovens and closed her interview by decrying the billions of dollars spent looking for evidence of hazards from exposure to electromagnetic energy—“because there is really nothing there.” At that time, the Times published a picture of her in a white lab coat in an anechoic chamber at the AF Research Lab in Brooks AFB, Texas where she was chief scientist for 5 years.

Her scientific prominence was built on decades of top-notch research, beginning with many years of exposure (at the John B. Pierce Foundation in New Haven, CT) of squirrel monkeys at warming levels of microwaves with no adverse results., followed by many short-term (e.g. 45 minutes) exposures of human volunteers to warming levels of microwaves , well above accepted safety limits, again with no adverse effects. (I was one of those volunteers).
Her role. in the last half-century, was juxtaposed in relation to the other great scientists who helped establish a rational understanding of the bioeffects of microwave exposure. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, before the creation of BEMS (Bioelectromagnetics Society) in 1979, there was no home society for researchers on microwave bioeffects. Thus many presented their results at IMPI symposia and in IMPI publications. IMPI even had a Safety Standards Committee, chaired by the eminent Prof. Herman P. Schwan, to which I was secretary.

Ellie was a charter member of BEMS, served as Secretary, and received the d’Arsonval Medal for outstanding research in 2007. A special issue of the BEMS journal was dedicated to her in 2003. Beyond that, however, Ellie had a vision of many potentially beneficial applications of microwave energy which are held back because of irrational fear of microwave “radiation”. She collaborated with Prof. Robert V. Pound, of Harvard, who proposed in ~1980, the comfort heating of humans by microwaves , at a frequency above 2.45 GHz—e.g. 5.8 or ~10 GHz. She compared notes with Dr. Charles Buffler, an IMPI luminary, who with his colleague, Ron Lentz, at Litton, was studying the human perception of microwaves in a screen room. (Dr. Buffler was also studying how microwaves can help prevent hypothermia in newborn lambs—he and his wife ran a small sheep farm in New Hampshire.). In 1995 and 1996, I hosted small parties at my home just before the meetings of BEMS and IMPI, in Boston, respectively, at which W. C. Brown (Bill) of Raytheon demonstrated microwave power transmission over a ~50 foot path in the early evening, to a rectenna, resulting in the energizing of a bank of lights. Ellie did not hesitate to go into the beam and see the lights go off. In 2001, at a meeting of the Space Studies Institute, in Princeton, New Jersey, Ellie recalled this incident and encouraged ongoing attempts to realize the revolutionary SPS (Solar Power Satellite) as one means of alleviating the energy crisis in the world.

She was a key leader in IEEE committees –both ICES (International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety) and COMAR (Committee on Man and Radiation). – but she often went beyond these formal duties to courageously defend current microwave technology, as in her appearance on “60 Minutes” in the early 90’s, defending police radar. In the late 80’s she led the creation of the annual Michaelson Research Conference in honor of the late Prof. Sol Michaelson, who had been a long-time consultant to AHAM and Member of IMPI.

Her life had broad aspects of human understanding. Besides hobbies like hiking and rooting for the Boston Red Sox, she was a serious supporter of the aspirations of the people in Tibet, with visits to the Dalai Lama. She and her family traveled extensively She got her husband, the distinguished Prof. Robert K. Adair, of Yale, involved in the controversy about safety of EM energy in the 80’s and 90’s and he helped both the IEEE committees as well as the EEA (Electromagnetic Energy Association)

Dr. Eleanor Adair recognized the problem of public acceptance of “microwaves’ and she often addressed the subject, as in a paper “Nurturing Electrophobia”. Her contributions have a lasting effect on the future of all microwave technology, especially those related to the scope of IMPI. She was a great scientist and person and is greatly missed.

John M. Osepchuk, Ph. D.
May 10, 2013.

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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


“Microwave Ovens: An Overview: 2013″

Editor’s Note: IMPI Fellow Dr. John Osepchuk has written an important
revision to his previous article on microwave oven sales around the world.

Revision of

“Microwave Ovens: An Overview: 2013″

In February, 2013, I wrote the cited “Overview” largely based on tabulated data on the top ten exporters and top ten importers of microwave ovens in the world. The “source” of these data was the U. N. Comtrade database as interpreted by the publication, World Trade Daily. The tabulated data were in terms of financial value, only. Since then we were able to make our own review of the Comtrade data base and we found data on number of ovens shipped. These new data and our review alters the conclusions of the “Overview” dramatically. There are many more ovens manufactured than previously estimated  and almost all manufactured in the Far East.

          In the “Overview” we cited the financial data (for only 2009) from the World Trade Daily which showed that ~80% of microwave ovens were exported from the Far East (China, Malaysia and Thailand) with, surprisingly, 16% still exported from Europe. Japan and the U.S. represented negligible exports. It was assumed that exports implied “manufacture” and that commercial and industrial microwave ovens were not included in the data and even if they were they would be almost a negligible source of error. In the absence of actual number of shipments we used the import data for the U.S and the AHAM data on shipments for 2009 to compute an estimate of average “price” (wholesale plus shipping) and to estimate total numbers of ovens exported and imported. In this way we estimated that the total world production of ovens in 2009 was about 40 million and it appeared that roughly 1/5 were still being manufactured in the West—i.e. Europe. For the U.S. we know the total annual sales are greater than the AHAM number of 9 – 10 million because of imports outside of the AHAM membership. Because the FDA declined to provide us with their data on imports we didn’t know the exact number of sales above the AHAM number.

          In the last two months, however, we were able to access, ourselves, the Comtrade database. (Just Google “U. N. Comtrade”). There we found data on actual numbers of ovens exported or imported along with financial data and weights of shipments. We also found out that there are some flaws and uncertainties in the Comtrade system. Nevertheless, we were able to deduce some startling conclusions. In the meantime through IMPI, inquiries to Europe cast doubt on the actual numbers of ovens manufactured in Europe. This apparently reflects the fact that the export/import data includes to some extent “re-exports” so that “exports” is not synonymous with “manufacture”

          An important finding was quickly made. The Comtrade data show that roughly 14.5 million ovens were imported into the U. S. annually in recent years vs. the AHAM data on “shipments” of roughly 9 – 10 million ovens per year. Thus we have learned what the FDA refused to tell us:  that 1/3 or more of the annual sales of microwave ovens in the U.S. are not included in the AHAM data and represent imports directly to retailers like Walmart and Target etc.

          Then we found that annual exports from China have risen to about 56 million ovens with about 6 million from Malaysia, 4 million from Thailand and 1 million from South Korea.  This already totals about 67 million to which we reasonably can add 3-4 million for consumption of ovens in these countries.  Thus a minimum estimate of world production of ovens is 70 million, far more that the estimate of 40 million in the “Overview”.  The number of ovens exported from Europe, per the Comtrade data base, is in the range of 3- 5 million, percentage-wise far less than the estimated 16% based on financial data—which might hint at the inclusions of commercial and industrial ovens.

          Inquiries through IMPI to Europe provided us with few reports of thriving oven manufacture and skepticism about the accuracy of the Comtrade data. One contribution to the confusion may be the existence of re-exporting of some imports etc.

          In summary, we conclude that a minimum estimate of the total annual manufacture of microwave ovens in the world is 70 million with some possibility that it is as high as 75 million. This is almost twice the previous estimate of 40 million ovens per year This suggests that the total population, worldwide, of operating microwave ovens is of the order of 1 billion. This is an astounding number and may be the basis for some new views on the implications of this number—for example the worldwide potential of RFI, real or suspected, from microwave ovens.

          Just as astounding is the fact that almost all of the consumer microwave ovens in the world are now manufactured in the Far East , especially China. Along with this is the manufacture of the magnetrons for microwave ovens—all in the Far East even though some of this is outsourcing from manufacturers in Japan and Korea. The fact of the matter is that manufacture of microwave ovens and cooker magnetrons is now focused in the Far East and not the West. We expect, therefore that R&D on these products will be focused in the Far East as well.

          IMPI is an international organization and represents the key forum for covering the field of microwave ovens. It is now important to increase the participation of members from the Far East so that all can monitor future developments—which are bound to occur.


                                                                             John M. Osepchuk, Ph. D.

                                                                             Full Spectrum Consulting

                                                                             Concord, MA 01742

                                                                             April 23, 2013

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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


2GCMEA Re-cap (continued from September/October Newsletter)

2GCMEA was under the technical leadership of the Microwave Working Group and Dr. Rebecca Schulz was the Technical Program Chair. The Materials Research Society (MRS) provided sponsorship and program assistance. The program was organized so that each of the 5 societies held a plenary session and in some cases a special panel discussion. There was a total of 25 sessions often held as 3 parallel sessions, plus an extensive poster session, consisting of 127 podium presentations plus 40 posters. The session topics included:

  • Green processing
  • Modeling
  • Microwave assisted chemistry
  • Ceramics and Glass research
  • HF/RF/plasma dielectrics
  • Metals processing
  • Polymer synthesis
  • Commercial applications
  • Nanotechnology
  • Process controls

 Two IMPI speakers presented the Plenary Session on July 25:

  • Bob Schiffmann: “IMPI, Super Bowl 2012 and the Search for the Killer App”
  • Juming Tang: “915 MHz Single-mode Microwave Technology for commercial Production of  Safe Foods”

 In addition, a special 3 ½ hour session was organized by the US Department of Energy (DOE) n the topic “Microwave and Radio Frequency as Enabling Technologies for Advanced Manufacturing”

Also at 2GCMEA, IMPI President, Bob Schiffmann was honored by his peers as the recipient of the first “Metaxas Microwave Pioneer” award recognizing his achievements in microwave processing, microwave ovens and microwavable products, and as an expert in the commercial advancement of this technology as demonstrated by his many contributions to the field including his many publications and patents and the numerous successful commercial applications resulting from his research. Congratulations, Bob!

The conference banquet was held on the Queen Mary where numerous awards were presented including to MTA members: Dr. A. C. (Ricky) Metaxas and Bob Schiffmann. In addition, Dr. Motoyasu Sato of the “National Institute of Fusion Science” in japan received the first Rustum Roy Award for his outstanding achievements in scientific research on microwave energy.”

3GCMEA will be held at the University of Cartagena Spain in 2016.

For further information about the programme and how to obtain a copy of the Proceedings:


JMPEE in Thompson Reuters











IMPI is pleased to announce that our signature publication, The Journal of Microwave Power and Electromagnetic Energy (JMPEE), has been reinstated to the prestigious Thompson Reuters Listing. The Journal can now be found in the Web of Science under the “Science Citation Index Expanded” and “Current Contents/Engineering, Computing and Technology,” beginning with JMPEE Volume 45 (2011).

Under the leadership of Editor-In-Chief, Dr. Juan Aguilar-Garib, JMPEE underwent a lengthy evaluation process beginning in early 2011.

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Did Russia ban microwave ovens at some point in the past?


The Internet is filled with misinformation (especially blogs) about microwaves and microwave ovens. They all seem to direct their focus on the supposed dangers of the ovens, the foods heated in them, the packaging and more. Many are scientifically flawed and generally inaccurate. One such rumor that has been lighting up the internet is the claim that, in the past, Russia had banned microwave ovens. Within IMPI we could not find a source for this assertion, though one of our members, the eminent engineer and scientist Dr. John Osepchuk wrote the rebuttal, below.  — Bob Schiffmann, President R.F. Schiffmann Associates, Inc. and IMPI’s current President

 There Was No Ban on Microwave Ovens in the USSR.

In the last issue, Bob Schiffmann stated that the “Russians did for some short period of time ban the sale of microwave ovens.” I believe this is not true and in the following I present ample evidence supporting my belief. I have been intimately involved with microwave ovens since 1968 and I have in my extensive historical coverage {1,2] of the field cited evidence of development of microwave ovens in the USSR in the 1970’s , including a brochure on “A superhigh-frequency oven” in 1971, an ad for the “Electronika” oven in 1980 and discussions with Soviet scientists on ovens in 1977. But the evidence is even much more extensive and so I present here a record of the many events that support the idea that microwave ovens never were banned in the USSR.

Key events:

1969: Dr Karel Marha, of Czechoslovakia, presents paper at the 1969 Richmond symposium on microwave bioeffects and visits Raytheon Co. He prepared an affidavit that describes how leakage radiation is monitored near microwave ovens in Czechoslovakia, –at a horizontal distance of at least 25 cm. from the oven door and at the height of the head and gonads. He contributes a paper describing safety considerations in “Eastern Europe” for the special issue of the IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory & Techniques in 1971 for which I was guest editor. No mention of bans ever came from Dr. Marha.

1973: At the IMPI symposium in Loughborough, in the U.K., there were extensive discussions on the safety of microwave ovens and Dr. P. Czerski, of Poland agreed with me at the podium that the U.S. “emission standard” for microwave ovens was compatible with exposure standards in Eastern Europe, and therefore there was no reason why ovens with leakage limits as in the U.S. would not be acceptable in the Eastern European countries.. These views were also included in a symposium in Poland which Dr. P. Czerski chaired. My contact with Dr. Czerski was extensive including a visit by him to my home with many hours of stimulating discussions.

1976: IMPI symposium in Belgium—no reports of a ban on microwave ovens in the USSR.

1970’s: In the world of international frequency allocations it is known that in the USSR there is the ISM band at 2.375 GHz for microwave ovens. But at the 1979 World Administrative Conference the USSR agreed to move the ISM band to 2.45 GHz making the 2.45 GHz band recognized throughout the world.

1977: At the IMPI symposium (I believe in Minneapolis) I had extensive discussions with Drs. Los and Dumansky from the Ukraine. No mention of any ban on ovens.

1977; 1979; At conferences on microwave bioeffects in Airlie , Virginia and Seattle, WA extensive discussions are held with scientists and engineers from the USSR and no hint of an oven ban is ever mentioned.

~1980: I had extensive discussions with a celebrated engineer, who had defected from the USSR, on microwave technology in the USSR—both at Raytheon and in Washington, D. C. where he lived.—no mention of a ban on ovens.

1980’s  –the present. I attended many meetings of the Bioelectromagnetics Society where scientists from Eastern Europe were often present. Never did I hear about a ban on microwave ovens.2

~1995: At both the IMPI symposium and a conference on crossed-field tubes at the University of Michigan there was evidence of microwave oven development in Russia but no mention of a ban.

—1968 – the present; I have attended almost all of the IMPI symposia. Even though many of the attendees are from Europe—e.g. Per Risman, never have I heard at an IMPI meeting the rumor that ovens were banned in the USSR.

1980’s to the present; Many contacts with representatives of magnetron suppliers in Russia, including Istok/Svetlana; with no mention of an oven ban

In addition to my experience I asked two people who visited the USSR many times in the last 40 years and they both report never hearing of a ban on microwave ovens while in the USSR—cf. Prof. A.W. Guy who made at least 12 trips and Ric Tell (of EPA fame) who made several trips.

As cited above, we in Raytheon were able to procure and test the “Electronika” oven. It operated at 2.45 GHz and showed leakage values between 0.5 and 1.0 mW/cm2—i.e. good enough to pass the FDA emission standard even though never legally processed for imports. It is interesting to read the ad (translation) for this oven in the Russian “Economic News” in the Spring of 1980.

Microwave Electric-Oven “Elektronika

Latest development in consumer cooking technology

It is very convenient to prepare food in this oven—no necessity to use pots or pans. One can warm up and prepare food fast right on the platter on which the food will be served.

In the “Electronika” oven, products don’t dry out or boil away as much.

Time of preparation is significantly reduced. For example, lamb is ready in 9 minutes; baked peroshki in 30 seconds.

Time settings free one from the necessity of constantly watching over the cooking process. The “Elecktronika” is compact and contemporarily styled. It will grace the kitchen with its appearance.

It operates at 220 Volts, with a maximum usable power of 1.65 kilowatts, dimensions 610x485x306 mm.; weight 45 kg. Price 297 rubles.

Available at Stores of “Electroconsumer-Agency” (“Electrobitorga”) Telepress-agency-ad.

In sum, the extensive experience of some of my colleagues and myself over the last 45 years shows no evidence of a ban of microwave ovens in the USSR.

It is true that there have been great differences in exposure standards between the USSR and the U.S. but even those differences may be explained away [3[

We conclude that the rumors about a ban on microwave ovens as well as the rumor that the Nazis invented the microwave oven are false and it appears these reports on the Internet originate with sources that have a goal of damning microwave ovens as unsafe both from the concerns about “radiation” as well as alleged deleterious effects on food


1.J.M.Osepchuk, “A history of microwave heating applications,”IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory & Techniques, vol. MTT-32, pp. 1200 – 1224, September, 1984

2. J. M. Osepchuk, “The History of the Microwave Oven: A Critical Review”, Digest IEEE  Int. Microwave Symposium. pp. 1397 – 1400, 2009

3. J. M. Osepchuk, “Environmental Standards: the New Concept and Key to International Harmonization of Safety Standards for the Safe Use of Electromagnetic Energy.” Digest IEEE Int. Symposium on Technology  and Society (ISTAS04), pp. 165 – 173, 2004.



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Metal: To Microwave or Not To Microwave…

…that is the question!

Please take a look at a fantastic piece on microwaving metal, written by Paul Hope at


Paul Hope evaluates and writes about kitchen appliances and gadgets ranging in size from paper plates to refrigerators and stoves. In addition to editorial reviews, Paul also tests products seeking the Good Housekeeping Seal. A background in food helps him appreciate equipment, and as a trained chef, he knows exactly what to look for. You can contact Paul by email at


Melamine & Microwaves

It has long been known that Melamine dishes are not suitable for microwave oven use. A recent comment found on a Tip-of-the-Week at on aptly articulates the reasons why:

MicrowaveGuru says:

There can be a very small amount of migration of the melamine-formaldehyde resin, but as you stated elsewhere, the FDA concluded that it was well below the safe use limit. However, the real reason for not microwaving melamine dishes or cookware is that it can become very hot when microwaved. Most plastics are microwave transparent and do not get hot. Melamine absorbs microwave energy and, as a result, heats.