A ‘crackling’ prototype

Niagara College

Niagara College won’t go breaking any ‘hearts’ this Valentine’s Day.

That’s because its Research & Innovation team has discovered a way to automate the process of cracking delicious heartnuts without breaking their heart-shaped shells or kernels!

After a 20-year search for a mechanized ‘heartnut sheller,’ local industry partner Grimo Nut Nursery has found new hope with the team of students, faculty and research experts with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College.

Heartnuts are in high demand due to their attractive shape, mild subtle flavour and heart-healthy properties; however, without automation, commercialization of the heartnut-growing industry in Ontario has stalled. Until now, this specialty nut has had to be cracked manually due to the complexities of precisely breaking each nut, so the heart-shaped shell opens like a locket and inside remains an intact, heart-shaped kernel.

Grimo Nursery has partnered with the NC Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre for its research team to design, develop and fabricate a working prototype that automatically cracks heartnuts without breaking the aesthetic heart-shaped shell or inside flesh. There have been four other previous attempts, (by other businesses, individuals and another academic institution) at producing such a device.

Read more here.