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Foodstuff - Thermal Diffusivity

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Thermal diffusivity is the rate of transfer of heat of a material from the hot side to the cold side - a measure of how quickly a material can absorb heat from its surroundings. It can be calculated by taking the thermal conductivity divided by density and specific heat capacity at constant pressure.

Thermal diffusivity has the SI derived unit of [m²/s], and is usually denoted α but a, κ, K, and D are also used. The formula is:

α =k / (ρ CP)            [1]


α = thermal diffusivity (m2/s)
k = is thermal conductivity [W/(m·K)]
ρ = density [kg/m³]
CP = specific heat capacity [J/(kg·K)]

Thermal diffusivity of selected foodstuff:

Foodstuff - Thermal Diffusivity
FoodstuffWater Content
(% wt)
Thermal Diffusivity
(10-7 m2/s)
Apple, juice 37 5 1.05
Apple, whole 85 0 - 30 1.37
Avocado, flesh 24 1.24
Avocado, seed 24 1.29
Avocado, whole 41 1.54
Banana, flesh 76 5 1.18
Beans, baked 4 - 122 1.68
Beef, chuck 66 40 - 65 1.23
Beef, round 71 40 - 65 1.33
Beef, tongue 68 40 - 65 1.32
Cherries, flesh 30 1.32
Codfish 81 5 1.22
Corned beef 65 5 1.32
Grapefruit, flesh 89 1.27
Halibut 76 40 - 65 1.47
Ham, smoked 64 5 1.18
Lemon, whole 72 40 1.07
Lima beans, pureed 26 - 122 1.80
Pea, pureed 16 - 122 1.82
Peach, whole 27 1.39
Potato, cooked and mashed 78 5 1.23
Potato, flesh 25 1.70
Rutabaga 48 1.34
Squash, whole 47 1.71
Strawberry, flesh 92 5 1.27
Sugarbeet 14 1.26
Tomato, pulp 4 1.48
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