b'C H A P T E R 12R EA CT O R S B E G ET R EA CT O R SThe pressing question in Idaho con- chemical inhibitors to suppress sprout- These early experiments demonstratedcerned potatoes. Could irradiation pre- ing and other problems for up to nine that irradiation did inhibit sprouting.vent stored potatoes from sprouting? months. But the goal was a twelve- Another round of experiments in 1963Idaho growers had built their mega-mil- month industry. 17 by the Potato Processors of Idaholion-dollar industry by learning how to demonstrated that irradiated potatoesstore potatoes for several months, keep- The University of Idaho owned its own could be used for satisfactory frozening frozen-food plants open profitably column at the Gamma Facility. french fries and some other processedlong after the glut of the harvest. By the Walter C. Sparks, one of the researchers products. However, parallel researchlate 1940s, scientists had developed at the universitys Research and with chemical inhibitors had demon-Extension Center at Aberdeen, Idaho, strated that a chemical called CIPC waswould take ten-pound lots of potatoes, relatively more simple, required lessconfined in nothing more than open handling of the potatoes, and presentedmesh sacks, to the Gamma Facility fewer complications in protectingcanal. In an hours work, he would lean workers. So the Idaho industry discard-over the railing and lower each sack ed irradiation as the more costly of theinto the water by means of a long cord. two methods despite continuing investi-Distance between fuel and potatoes was gations by competing growers inadjusted for the selected exposure. Canada and Japan into the possibilitiesSome sacks got five minutes, others ten of irradiation. 19or fifteen. Elsewhere in the canal peo-ple might be dunking strawberries or Back at the MTR, the constant cry frombacon. Sometimes a potato got loose customers was More neutrons! Morefrom the sack. Long-handled forceps flux! Faster results! In response,were handy, and someone would grab Phillips modified the reactor to operatethe tool and fish for the potato. 18 safely at forty megawatts. The barrageINEEL 57-2619 of questions continued. Will irradiationmelt fuel pellets made of this alu-minum-uranium alloy? Can we usethulium-170 as a source in medicalradiography? Will neutron and gammaradiation improve the coking character-istics of Sewickly coal? How can wedesign our reactor so it will operate attemperatures of 650 degrees? How willtwenty-percent-enriched fuel perform ina high-flux reactor? 20Above . A rack of canned food is ready to plungeinto a water column, a rectangular shaft of metal.Air columns also were available. Left. Walter Sparks(in truck) loads up the afternoons experiment. INEEL 55-16721 1 3'