The start of a new topic – a way of introducing new things, and building a knowledge base for those to come. But let me be quite clear here – I am talking about evidence-based observations, not subjective faith in the rightness of my hypotheses. As much as possible this builds on material in my book, though does not necessarily follow any particular section.
I shall start this off with a short discourse on shell energy value and how to make use of it. At more than 19MJ/kg the shell energy value (the SEV to follow the conventions of my book) of black walnut is higher than wood pellets, and the odd handful tossed into the fire-pot of a lit pellet stove has always burned with a good blaze. To avoid the pitfall of having to use energy to pelletize the shell, I asked my student collaborators to a) see what they could do to make cracked shell flow well when in a hopper, and b) how one would have to modify the auger of a pellet stove to adapt it to feeding this modified cracked product. I'm glad to say they've made progress on both fronts, so I'll get them to report on their work.
Shell is approximately 75% or more of the dry weight of the nut, so will always be the largest by-product, by weight or volume. In fact, any production strategy for kernel should build in an energy-based destination for shell. Long gone are the days when it was seen only as an abrasive end-product, or dumped as waste.