Man-Made Lightning Bolt Harnessed to a Jobâ€”Cracking Walnuts (Nov, 1953)
Man-Made Lightning Bolt Harnessed to a Jobâ€”Cracking Walnuts
Nut packers have found that a 65,000-volt, 5,000-ampere jolt of electricity will take the shell off a walnut clean as a whistle. The kernels are undamaged, and production per worker is more than doubled.
The nuts are fed from 10,000-pound storage bins onto threaded rolls that carry them into a metal-shielded concrete building. This houses 18 cracking units (above left) in two banks of nine each. Dropping one at a time from the rolls, the nuts are grasped by movable electrodes (above right) and held for an instant while the big bolt shatters the shells. Then meats and shells drop into an underground conveyor that carries them to be sorted and packed.
Because of the high voltage, the room shielding is carefully grounded and the discharged current is carried deep into the ground by heavy rods. The electronic cracker was developed by the Northwest Nut Growers, Portland, Oregon. Packers hope to design similar crackers for other nuts, such as almonds and filberts.