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I Gotta Admit I Really Like The Vulcan


pjtoledo

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let us not forget there are 2 periods of peak electrical demand.

1. during the hottest afternoons of summer when there is little to no wind for the windmills

2. during the cold winter nights during storms when the wind is too high forcing the windmills to shut down. not much from the solar panels then either.

it's # 2 that I would be the most concerned about. fixing either would mean upgrading the entire electrical grid to acquire power from hundreds of miles, in all directions from any point.
and/or have on demand supplemental generating stations, which would use ,,,,,, fossil fuels.
 


Rock Auto 5% Discount Code: DE2235E7692E8C: July 5th, 2021

snoranger

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It is fun to debate it though, I am glad the moderator police haven't stepped in yet.
55853


There’s been no reason for anyone to step in... it’s just been a civil discussion.
 

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#1 is already a huge problem in California, and other states, in the summer, and sometimes here once in a while. Your Tesla doesn't charge well when your part of the electrical grid is hit with a rolling blackout.

100% electric power grid, even if it's 100% clean and free (it never is), is a recipe for some other country to hack into our power grid and shut every single part of it down. We just keep getting more and more vulnerable in that regard, betcha other people around the world are looking at that. The exposure gets worse as the power grid gets more interconnected. ERCOT used to be semi-independent from the other power grids, I think that is changing due to the wind farms and wanting to be able to push power to other states.
 

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Not sure how passionate you are about renewable energy and the "green" thing, for all I know you are playing devils advocate here. It is fun to debate it though, I am glad the moderator police haven't stepped in yet.

My question for you is, what is your "ideal" state of our energy grid and what is going to make the tree huggers happy? What would this actually look like? Unless they have some sort of tech break through, with the technology we have now, is every square inch of US soil going to be covered with solar panels? Windmills too? And of course we will have large battery factories with battery recycling and lots of chemicals to support this?

Will we keep trucks ICE or is it practical to go electric with them also? Will the weight limits of the 18 wheelers have to raised since they can't carry as much load because of the extra battery weight? What about construction equipment running all day moving dirt around. Are there any practical tree huggers that admit the ICE will always be here and have some practical uses? Some sort of final balance of ICE versus EV?

I think I'm pretty reasonable in my expectations for EVs and our future energy needs. I'm not a super passionate idealist. I try to reduce my consumption in many ways, but I'm not perfect, and focusing all of my energy on reducing my environmental impact sounds pretty miserable too. My daily driver is a PHEV that's averaging over 90mpg in it's 50k miles, but I still love to bang through gears in my supercharged Ranger too. Different tools for different jobs. I know that it's not all rainbows and unicorns no matter what we do. Batterys are dirty. Electrical generation is dirty. Tailpipe emissions are dirty. Getting fuel out of the ground and into vehicles is dirty. There is no perfect solution, it's just about which ones are less bad. I try to be well informed and base my decisions on data/facts rather than just how I feel. I used to feel the way that a lot of people do about EVs. I've made the same arguments against them that many here have. I now challenge a lot of the detractors in threads like these, because the more I looked into it (and the longer EVs have been around) the more data is presented that indicates EVs are a pretty good idea. That's not to say they're perfect, but I think as a whole they're better than what we're currently doing. I try to always have some data to support my position so that others might be able to look into the situation further if they're inclined, and so they may know that I'm not just spouting idealistic garbage. It might not change anybody's opinions, but I hope that it can at least make some people consider some alternative outlooks. I think it's human nature to see change on the horizon and assume that it's going to be bad, or to try and come up with reasons that it won't work as well as what we're doing now. Change is uncomfortable. I'm not usually a big fan of it honestly. But I think it's inevitable too, so instead of griping about it I've tried to learn as much as I can.

Reports that I've read suggest that in an ideal scenario, as little as 20,000 sq mi of solar panels would be capable of providing enough electricity for the entire US. The yellow square here represents that amount of land area:


(This is only a representation of area, not an actual suggestion for a huge block of panels in a single location. I know there would be numerous issues with this approach)

There are literally tens of thousands of square miles of empty rooftops in the US that would work really well with some solar panels. Places like schools, shopping malls, warehouses, grocery stores, large churches, etc seem like ideal options to me. Elevating a solar array over a parking lot to generate electricity could work too while having some other benefits. My point is that it's not as if every square inch of the country needs to be solar panels. There's a ton of wasted flat space that's already developed that could be used for solar before any other undeveloped flat ground is devoted to solar.

It's funny that you bring up work vehicles like trucks and construction equipment because that's what pays the bills in my house. I do R&D for diesel and natural gas engines. My wife deals with heavy duty hybrids, BEVs, and hydrogen fuel cells at work. We've got this covered from all aspects in my house. My employer continues to make diesels because they're currently the best or in some cases only option to do a lot of work. But they also see the writing on the wall, and know that they simply won't be allowed to sell diesels in some places before much longer, so they have prototype battery powered trucks, and construction equipment in the field. They have fully electric buses in customer hands on public roads. They have hydrogen fuel cell powered semis, trains, boats and power generators in use too. I know that there are limitations to what each of these technologies is capable of, but there are also jobs that each of these technologies excels at. I think the trick moving forward is going to be identifying which technology works best for a given application.
Long haul trucking has lots of issues that a full battery electric truck can't currently solve (weight, cost, and charge times being the largest). But hydrogen fuel cells might be a better fit there if they can figure out some infrastructure. Still, it's going to take time and a whole bunch of money for either option to make more financial sense than a diesel. But this tech can't be developed over night. If you want to have the best fuel cells in 2040, you needed to be investing in them 5-10 years ago. Meanwhile, EV buses, delivery trucks, and local semis are increasingly popular because they run set routes with shorter distances and often have lots of low speed stop/go driving. Batteries are a good fit for these vehicles, and they greatly reduce maintenance costs for the fleet operators. Uptime is everything to these businesses. If a vehicle is down for repairs, it's not making you money. And money is obviously a huge factor here.

For several years, the US has let other countries handle most of the work when it comes to alternative energy production. The US can cheaply support itself with the oil/gas that we already have, so there was less motivation to change than a place such as China or Europe. Those places do not have the means to support their own energy needs, so they have been more motivated to implement alternative energy options, and more heavily subsidize EVs, etc to reduce their dependence on foreign countries. This was expensive because the tech wasn't very mature but they had no choice really if they wanted energy independence. In the last couple of years solar panel efficiency has increased while production costs have decreased. Same is true for batteries, with efficiency climbing and costs declining. If the US has any intention of being a player in the alternative energy arena, then it's about time to start investing in that tech. The price tag continues to fall, but governments (both domestically and globally) are signaling a significant reduction in fossil fuels in the next 2 decades so it's time for the US to ramp up their investment. If they continue to keep investment in alternative energy low, costs are likely to continue to drop. But they're also likely to have to rely on other nations that have invested more heavily, and that hurts their independence as well as their position as a global political leader. It's also bad for US businesses that want to invest in these technologies so they may sell their products across the globe. They're at a disadvantage to global competition if their tech isn't financially viable because there's little domestic demand for it. EV batteries, or solar panels, make a lot more financial sense if you can spread out the R&D and production costs across global demand, rather than just producing enough to sell in a handful of smaller regions.

My hope for "the Grid" is to increase clean energy options on a small, local level. I want as many businesses, government facilities, and home owners as possible to be energy independent in the same way the US as a whole is. I want them to be able to support their own electrical needs to reduce their demand from "the Grid", and if they can completely eliminate their demand or even sell some energy back to the utilities, even better. This would make these places less likely to suffer in the case of a power outage, while also reducing the liklihood of an outage in the first place. It also helps to alleviate the national security concerns that Mike G mentioned above if every zip code or every house can provide for what they need.
 
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8thTon

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What year do you estimate this need will exist? CA will stop the sale of new ICEs in 2035. For simplicity, lets assume that all 50 states follow their lead (obviously they aren't likely to all ban ICEs at the same time). About 16-17 million new passenger vehicles are sold per year in the US. There were about 275 million passenger vehicles registered in the US in 2019


That's about 16 years of sales if everybody banned ICE sales at the same time (unlikely) before the entire US fleet was EV. That would be 2051 if the timeline starts at 2035. I'm sure they'll want to have that capacity available long before 100% of the fleet is EV, but I think we've got a couple of decades before things get tight due to EVs.




The real question is, what percentage of EV users will be using these public facing, less efficient fast chargers? How many miles driven will come from slower, more efficient charging at home or work? And systemically, is that fast charging inefficiency + slow charging better or worse than nearly everybody currently using a liquid fuel in vehicles that are only extracting ~35% of the energy stored in these liquid fuels? Right now about 80% of EV charging is done at home:

That may change over time, but nearly anybody with a garage already has access to more efficient charging that's both cheaper and easier/more convenient, so it will always be a higher percentage than public fast chargers. If you had a fuel pump in your garage that was $0.20/gal cheaper than those at the gas stations, how often would you use gas stations? That's essentially the choice for most EV owners. The only people that use public chargers are those that have to, or those on long trips. The inefficiencies of the occasional use of public fast charging are not nearly as concerning to me as a series of 35-40% efficient ICEs pumping fossil fuels out of the ground, transporting them to refineries, transporting the refined fuels to fueling stations where they are then pumped into more vehicles that turn the majority of the energy stored in that fuel into waste heat/noise/pumping losses. How much energy is used just to get a gallon into the tank of a vehicle that can't even convert half of the energy in the fuel into propulsion? Detractors always want to bring up transmission losses in electricity, but there are massive transmission losses in our current fueling infrastructure that shouldn't be over looked.



Why can't this renewable energy be stored? It doesn't have to be real time. Store it in old EV batteries. Store it in a liquid like hydrogen. Store it in water and use gravity.



I can't really tell what your point is here. Are you upset about new vehicle prices? Are you upset about subsidization? Because the oil and gas industry gets a whole lot of taxpayer dollars too. For someone as concerned about thermodynamic efficiency as you seem to be, I'd think that you'd be thrilled to see a vehicle that didn't use it's mechanical brakes and turn a bunch of kinetic energy into useless waste heat. That's not a bug, that's a feature. I'm not saying there's any perfect solution, or that EVs are flawless at all. But a lot of the negative things that people come up with aren't really a big deal.



The people responsible for the electrical grid in TX said this week that 60% of the lost power in the state would've come from "thermal" (coal/gas) power plants, while wind and solar were responsible for 40% of the lost power. It's fun to crack on the treehuggers and all, but glass houses aren't a great place to be throwing those stones.

You (and most everyone else who's whistling past the graveyard) are going with the "they'll think of something" plan - just start going EV and hope the infrastructure gets built and that technology solves some of the major problems. But as I said before, many of those problems are not things that can be solved, they are simply the way the universe works. I've been designing equipment for the electric utility industry for 34 years, and in that time about the only generation that's been added is peaking natural gas plants, and wind and solar. More base generation has not been built because it's a poor investment, primarily because of the costs of fossil fuel. The high net energy return coal and oil have been used up, so that won't improve. That leaves solar and wind, which are intermittent sources.

In spite of what you might think from reading the MSM, no one ever designed a power grid with intermittent sources. Maintaining stability in such a system would be a huge challenge, and will at minimum require lots of energy storage. As I said previously, energy is not a thing you can put in a bucket, it's a flow. Oil is not energy, nor is coal, they are matter where the energy is stored in the form of molecular bonds with carbon. While a lot of solar energy got stored there, it was not an efficient process, it just happened over a long time, a long time ago. Interrupting/pausing a huge flow of energy on a daily basis and storing it is a very difficult process, and will always entail large losses going in and out of storage. All of the methods you mentioned entail large losses (by the way, I presently design large stationary batter chargers).

The entire automotive transportation system is massively subsidized. Maintaining the roads is one of the highest costs of any municipality. Even if the manufacturing costs of EVs can be brought down to the point where they don't need to be subsidized, think about how much it will cost to increase the capacity of generation and T&D, not to mention build all the point of use charging stations. We have not been able to make that investment in the last many decades. Also, if the roads are used only by smaller numbers of EVs, the fixed costs of maintaining them will need to be carried by those EVs.

Texas is paying the price of decades of infrastructure construction that assumed water would not freeze. That made things much cheaper to build but may have had some shortcomings..... Mainly the grid went down because they used too many wind turbines without heated blades and cold weather capability, and so it could not be used. There was not enough other capacity to make up for it, and much of that had problems with freezing too.

In 1915 there was an electric trolley that ran up and down the Delaware river from Easton to Doylestown. It ran every hour from 7 in the morning to I think 11 at night, 7 days a week. It was powered by low-head hydro feeding from the canal into the river - they just added some flow into the canal at Easton and pulled it back out at the hydro plant a few miles down river. The canal was still in use too then too. Why don't we have those things any more? Because of the subsidizing of the automobile. These are the results of playing with the markets. My main point here is that our industrial society was mostly built prior to the automobile, and even though we spent the last hundred years ripping down all that we had and building everything around the automotive transportation system, it is not required. We had all the transportation technology we need to keep it going a hundred years ago.
 

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"Can't store sunshine (or wind for that matter)." That's the crux of the problem. Solve that and everything changes.
 

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In 1915 there was an electric trolley that ran up and down the Delaware river from Easton to Doylestown. It ran every hour from 7 in the morning to I think 11 at night, 7 days a week. It was powered by low-head hydro feeding from the canal into the river - they just added some flow into the canal at Easton and pulled it back out at the hydro plant a few miles down river.
Those trolly tracks actually run through my front yard and under my street.
 

stmitch

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You (and most everyone else who's whistling past the graveyard) are going with the "they'll think of something" plan - just start going EV and hope the infrastructure gets built and that technology solves some of the major problems. But as I said before, many of those problems are not things that can be solved, they are simply the way the universe works. I've been designing equipment for the electric utility industry for 34 years, and in that time about the only generation that's been added is peaking natural gas plants, and wind and solar. More base generation has not been built because it's a poor investment, primarily because of the costs of fossil fuel. The high net energy return coal and oil have been used up, so that won't improve. That leaves solar and wind, which are intermittent sources.

In spite of what you might think from reading the MSM, no one ever designed a power grid with intermittent sources. Maintaining stability in such a system would be a huge challenge, and will at minimum require lots of energy storage. As I said previously, energy is not a thing you can put in a bucket, it's a flow. Oil is not energy, nor is coal, they are matter where the energy is stored in the form of molecular bonds with carbon. While a lot of solar energy got stored there, it was not an efficient process, it just happened over a long time, a long time ago. Interrupting/pausing a huge flow of energy on a daily basis and storing it is a very difficult process, and will always entail large losses going in and out of storage. All of the methods you mentioned entail large losses (by the way, I presently design large stationary batter chargers).

The entire automotive transportation system is massively subsidized. Maintaining the roads is one of the highest costs of any municipality. Even if the manufacturing costs of EVs can be brought down to the point where they don't need to be subsidized, think about how much it will cost to increase the capacity of generation and T&D, not to mention build all the point of use charging stations. We have not been able to make that investment in the last many decades. Also, if the roads are used only by smaller numbers of EVs, the fixed costs of maintaining them will need to be carried by those EVs.

Texas is paying the price of decades of infrastructure construction that assumed water would not freeze. That made things much cheaper to build but may have had some shortcomings..... Mainly the grid went down because they used too many wind turbines without heated blades and cold weather capability, and so it could not be used. There was not enough other capacity to make up for it, and much of that had problems with freezing too.

In 1915 there was an electric trolley that ran up and down the Delaware river from Easton to Doylestown. It ran every hour from 7 in the morning to I think 11 at night, 7 days a week. It was powered by low-head hydro feeding from the canal into the river - they just added some flow into the canal at Easton and pulled it back out at the hydro plant a few miles down river. The canal was still in use too then too. Why don't we have those things any more? Because of the subsidizing of the automobile. These are the results of playing with the markets. My main point here is that our industrial society was mostly built prior to the automobile, and even though we spent the last hundred years ripping down all that we had and building everything around the automotive transportation system, it is not required. We had all the transportation technology we need to keep it going a hundred years ago.
Expecting investment and problem solving in order to realize the benefits of a new technology isn't unique to this discussion in current times. I'm sure that at a point in the early 20th century just before ICEs were common place, people had the same argument about infrastructure being lacking, and that it would be too expensive and time consuming to provide fuel for these newfangled automobiles. "It takes how much time, money and effort to get that Dino juice into those cars!? It doesn't make any sense to invest in that or have faith in people to solve these problems when my horse runs on cheap, plentiful grass!" Lo and behold, within 30 years we had enough fueling stations and roads and the basics needed to support modern transportation.
Around the same time, those same people that poo poo'd ICEs probably also said that having indoor electricity was just a novelty for the rich, and that it wasn't realistic to string wires across the country so that normal people could have electricity. I can see them saying "Why should we invest in this electricity infrastructure when trees are everywhere and cheap to burn?", and yet it was pretty common and expected within 40-50 years to have electricity in homes and businesses.

How much do inefficiencies in storing electricity matter if it's all zero emissions? If you've got solar, hydro, or wind power used to manufacture hydrogen when it can, the hydrogen is essentially a battery used to store that energy to be used whenever it's needed. Hydrogen electrolysis is not as efficient as simply using the electricity, but the hydrogen it makes can be used anytime, anywhere, and being a liquid it can refill tanks faster than recharging batteries. This Green Hydrogen is already happening on a small scale and is seeing significant investment.

Humans have a pretty good track record of solving large scale problems with enough incentive and investment. We just saw this with multiple highly effective COVID vaccines developed in record time. Ultimately, there's been more investment in all of this various technology ( EVs, batteries, hydrogen, alternative energy) in the last 5 years than any time in history. There are lots of very smart people that stand to make lots of money if they get it right. I'm not going to bet against them.
 

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GM killed all the trolleys. Too much competition with things they made, that wear out faster ;) Look it up. Found guilty in court, but nothing ever came of it.

People 100+ years ago, uh, they didn't sit around complaining. They had too much work to do! Ever talk to someone who grew up on a farm without TV, radio, electricity, running water, or a car for that matter? Still got one great-aunt left from that generation. Back then.... whining wasn't done to raise one's social status. Do it too much, and get a swift kick somewhere. Anyway.....

The *only* reasonably clean, "alternative" power source that you can run 24x7, without respect to the weather or temp, or location for that matter, is geothermal. Just need to drill deep enough holes to get where the earth is much warmer. Some places, barely below the surface (Yellowstone). Others, eh, a few miles, plus or minus.

When we get serious about reasonably clean alternative energy, we'll go that route. Till then.... we'll sit around and whine ;)

Oh and we'll still need petroleum for tires. And sailing ships. And planes. And combines, mobile heavy equipment, and over the road trucks. If we want to eat, and have clothes not made out of flour sacks, that is ;)

Trains can be electrified; read about the long-defunct Milwaukee Road. Just takes money.

That's my prediction.
 

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You can imagine the big oil companies are not liking the future plans. And these future plans might turn the electric companies into the same thing the oil companies are now.

You can talk and debate about anything, but it always comes down to the money and the flow of it, not the flow of the electricity and how green a company or group is.
 

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Those trolly tracks actually run through my front yard and under my street.
You can see where they ran in many places along the river. The power plant is still standing at the lock in Raubsville.
 

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Expecting investment and problem solving in order to realize the benefits of a new technology isn't unique to this discussion in current times. I'm sure that at a point in the early 20th century just before ICEs were common place, people had the same argument about infrastructure being lacking, and that it would be too expensive and time consuming to provide fuel for these newfangled automobiles. "It takes how much time, money and effort to get that Dino juice into those cars!? It doesn't make any sense to invest in that or have faith in people to solve these problems when my horse runs on cheap, plentiful grass!" Lo and behold, within 30 years we had enough fueling stations and roads and the basics needed to support modern transportation.
Around the same time, those same people that poo poo'd ICEs probably also said that having indoor electricity was just a novelty for the rich, and that it wasn't realistic to string wires across the country so that normal people could have electricity. I can see them saying "Why should we invest in this electricity infrastructure when trees are everywhere and cheap to burn?", and yet it was pretty common and expected within 40-50 years to have electricity in homes and businesses.

How much do inefficiencies in storing electricity matter if it's all zero emissions? If you've got solar, hydro, or wind power used to manufacture hydrogen when it can, the hydrogen is essentially a battery used to store that energy to be used whenever it's needed. Hydrogen electrolysis is not as efficient as simply using the electricity, but the hydrogen it makes can be used anytime, anywhere, and being a liquid it can refill tanks faster than recharging batteries. This Green Hydrogen is already happening on a small scale and is seeing significant investment.

Humans have a pretty good track record of solving large scale problems with enough incentive and investment. We just saw this with multiple highly effective COVID vaccines developed in record time. Ultimately, there's been more investment in all of this various technology ( EVs, batteries, hydrogen, alternative energy) in the last 5 years than any time in history. There are lots of very smart people that stand to make lots of money if they get it right. I'm not going to bet against them.
A smart guy once said "Hope is not a plan". We won't solve anything by continuing this further, but I'll be planning on different outcomes.
 

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The big companies will shift, as soon as it is economically viable.

Wind, and solar, without gov't subsidies (that the rest of us pay through taxes) are not economically viable at the present time, with the current price for fossil fuels. Geothermal, it isn't a mystery, it isn't even terribly complicated, it would already rule our world.... except it isn't economically viable at the present time. Emphasis on "present."
 

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A smart guy once said "Hope is not a plan". We won't solve anything by continuing this further, but I'll be planning on different outcomes.
First, thanks for an interesting and respectful discussion. It's not common anymore to disagree in a civil way, and I'm glad it can still be done.

Second, although I didn't start the discussion of EVs and green energy in this thread about the Vulcan, I certainly sent it off the rails of the original subject, so I'm sorry if my off-topic contributions have bothered you.

Finally, I'll close by pointing out that there's a lot more than just hope here. There've been decades of R&D to get the quality of these technologies to their current levels while reducing costs. That work is ongoing with a massively expanding pool of smart people and deep pockets. Historically speaking, large scale change occurs when three things align: having lots of smart people working on the problem, with plenty of funding, and political will to guide policies in a way that support the change. I think we're pretty much there. I'm happy to revisit this discussion in the future as any changes arise too. I think it would be really interesting to check back in every year or so to see where we are as a society.
 

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Automatic
2WD / 4WD
2WD
My credo
My world is filled with stuff that needs to be fixed
First, thanks for an interesting and respectful discussion. It's not common anymore to disagree in a civil way, and I'm glad it can still be done.

Second, although I didn't start the discussion of EVs and green energy in this thread about the Vulcan, I certainly sent it off the rails of the original subject, so I'm sorry if my off-topic contributions have bothered you.

Finally, I'll close by pointing out that there's a lot more than just hope here. There've been decades of R&D to get the quality of these technologies to their current levels while reducing costs. That work is ongoing with a massively expanding pool of smart people and deep pockets. Historically speaking, large scale change occurs when three things align: having lots of smart people working on the problem, with plenty of funding, and political will to guide policies in a way that support the change. I think we're pretty much there. I'm happy to revisit this discussion in the future as any changes arise too. I think it would be really interesting to check back in every year or so to see where we are as a society.
I enjoyed it too - and you did not derail the thread, I'm pretty sure I did that to my own thread!

My different view of what is coming has to do with looking at energy differently than most do. I think a lot of people will be surprised by the future that actually shows up, versus the one that's being sold.
 


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