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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


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


IMPI’s Blog has launched!


Hello new readers! The International Microwave Power Institute is jumping on the blog-bandwagon with the hopes of communicating FACTUAL information to combat the enormous amount of mis-information, currently on the web. We are hoping to take on the role of Microwave Mythbuster!

The content here will complement information you read on IMPI’s Main Site as well as both our Facebook and Twitter (#IMPIOrg) pages.

In the near future, posts will be published that fall under the following categories (and then some):

  • “Microwaves DON’T Ruin Everything”
  • “Miscellaneous Myths”
  • “Expert Answers”
  • “IMPI Org”

As we want this blog to be interactive as well as informative, please contact us or leave a comment if there is a topic you would like us to address!