WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

Algae CO2 Reduction

Carbon Dioxide on Nova

"Lethal Seas" on Nova just aired here. Carbon dioxide emissions are causing the oceans to become more acidic and are impairing the ability of shelled sea creatures and coral to survive.

More electric cars, please! Carbon dioxide sequestration!

On a more local scale, I found many pieces of information on this program that I can use. They showed how carbon dioxide in the water creates hydrogen ions -- which are the acid. I am going to start testing the water around our furnace exhaust system. Perhaps the acidity explains the algae that grows on our porches. Perhaps it even explains all the moss that is taking over sections of our lawn.

I should collect the water runoff from the exhaust pipes to test also for electrical properties.

The grass certainly likes the carbon dioxide emissions. Oh. That reminds me. I'd better get the plants under cover tonight....

Snow Algae Article

From Science News you can read an article about snow algae, as I have just now done, and wonder as I do, "Aren't algae plants?" How can plants move? These plants do not only move by floating in melted snow water, they have tails like sperm cells do, and swim up through the snow "like salmon" before some but not all of them mate with each other.

I understand plants move, also, by their seeds floating on the wind, but to have a sperm cell type of tail helping them to climb up through a snowbank -- doesn't that make them animals, too?

Please be advised that the article to which I sent you seems to end at two pages, but it continues, so continue to page down through the article -- which seems also to be very well written, btw. It has plenty of human interest ensconced within its own algal nerdiness, lol.

Moss at 20 Degrees Fahrenheit

20 degrees Fahrenheit means frozen water in my vats. Moss seems to have anti-freeze in it because it has not turned brown. I left some out of the water to try to preserve its shape:

The upper left corner of the vat has a twig sticking up out of the ice with moss on it.
Down in the vat is moss lining some rocks from the mossed-up creek in the park.
Apparently the grass beside the vat also has some anti-freeze in it, along with red clover.

Lettuce is another plant famous for its anti-freeze. The inside of our greenhouse is coated with water droplets, probably from moisture that our clothes dryer provides it, while I kept all the windows and doors to the greenhouse closed during this cold weather. I have 10 pots of lettuce, including this one.

Here's another vat of ice with some phase of moss on the darker -- less red -- leaf. Mostly light brown, this phase of moss makes a very thin layer of networked material on the surface of the leaf. You might be able to discern a faint edging of green, also faintly green overlay of the light brown, which is some phase of the moss. I am sorry I can't remember the names of the phases. I will have to study that if moss becomes my only CO2 reduction crop, lol.

Alternatives to Algae for CO2 Reduction

Electrolysis of CO2 is another method mentioned by the Wiki article in my previous entry.

I have the Ionic Breeze Quadra air purifier with "Ozone Guard" and was hoping its ionization of air might suffice. However, looking at a short blurb about NASA CO2 scrubbing via CO2 electrolysis I see they use 550 degrees Celsius, which is outside of my capabilities. See article at NASA CO2 scrubbing proposal.

I hope to keep putting future web findings into this article.

For example: CO2 reduction by absorption in an amine solution from Norway's cement industry. You get to the good part of this article at page 9 of 11 with a schematic diagram of the technical layout of such a system.

I still haven't found how cement can be made from calcium plus CO2. I thought I had read about that somewhere.... Or was it bicarbonate of soda? I will have to look back through my own entries to find it. (See below)

A nice rundown on potentials for various methods of CO2 reduction is a 32 page article from the UK. It seems that the initial choice of fuel or energy production is the most productive avenue to pursue overall, but page 19 shows a comparison of pre- and post-combustion efficacy for various methods in CO2 reduction in industries using fossil fuels. Earlier, say page 15 (the page numbering is not the same as the PDF numbering), shows how much less CO2 is produced by natural gas combustion compared to coal -- if I read the table correctly. It is not clear if the comparisons ignore CO when calculating the CO2 footprint. CO is worse in my book since it absorbs oxygen.

Back to cement. "calcium carbonate is prepared by calcining crude calcium oxide...." and calcining can be found also in Wiki. "Precipitated calcium carbonate (PPC)" starts with "CaCO3 --> CaO + CO2" that is, "heat limestone to drive off CO2 to produce cement." So the later step after adding water, then CO2 to make calcium carbonate was offset initially by the driving off of CO2.

It seems I can't win unless I could find a cheap source of lime that was not created by burning limestone. What is aragonite found in? It is equivalent to calcite. What is calcite?

Back I go to Wiki to find answers to those questions, plus, "What if I add CO2 to powdered milk?" Or methane to powdered milk? Powdered milk is expensive so I would look for another source of calcium, but think of powdered milk as an experimental "element" in these inquiries. Anyway, a geology professor once told me that limestone is made from bits of shells plus methane, is all....Lots of shells wash up on the Outer Banks....The CO2 in limestone gets into it somehow.

CO2 Scrubbing Info

As I am trying to find a way to convert the CO/CO2 from our furnace exhaust back to carbon  plus oxygen, and I am increasingly discouraged from trying to grow algae at cold temperatures due to a lack of a source for snow algae plus a lack of other resources, I am also looking into CO2 scrubbing on Google.

Every so often I see Apollo 13 with its CO2 scrubber, plus Stargate Universe had CO2 scrubbers, so I am looking into alternative methods. One such alternative involves hydroxides, according to the Wikipedia. Hydroxide is a natural ion in water, I guess. This might be intriguing: 

"Another long-term option is carbon capture directly from the air using hydroxides. The air would literally be scrubbed of its CO content. This idea offers an alternative to non-carbon-based fuels for the transportation sector."

However, just pumping CO2 into water has large drawbacks as noted under "Oceans" at the Wiki article on CO2 capture.

Moss or Bacteria?

One discussion site I had googled had one individual saying that moss does not grow under water. That would be convenient for identifying whether something were moss or algae, but I fear it is not true. In a wooded stream environment where at times the entire stream is coated with moss, I found what looked to be algae under water, but it has too much in common with moss to be algae.

It was growing straight up from the bottom of the stream where a leaf had fallen in and the leaf was seemingly weighted down by a thin layer of sediment. The structure of the algae-looking moss was sort of like a 3-dimensional network, growing and swaying from bottom to top of the water column. It was anchored to the leaf.

When I removed it and placed it in my plastic box, I deprived it of water. Its water structure then disappeared. It was left overnight in my vehicle when it was supposed to be 54 degrees for a low, so it did not freeze. When I got it out the next morning it has sprouted one moss sprig. I shoulda got a picture of that.

When I put it into water under a leaky gutter its structure had mostly collapsed but a few small clumps of its old self arose within the water.  (I had made an intentional hole in the gutter so that water would not stand there to breed mosquitoes, and so that our front yard tree would have a natural water source.) 

Some moss samples from the park. I think I got these off a tree that has its roots in the creek and whose trunk base is covered with moss.

I also took a few rocks and twigs from the creek. The moss makes a network that filters the sediment from the creek and so forms a layer of dirt under the moss and on top of the rocks. Somehow the moss anchors itself using its network of fine tendrils.

In the lower left is a submerged twig with lichen on it. It was not submerged when I found it beside the stream bed.

Similarly, this leaf now has a layer of sediment. I think there is actually more to the layer than just sediment. Perhaps it is bacteria -- some symbiotic bacteria that starts to break down the object to which the moss attaches itself.

In the lower left quadrant of this photo there is a faint green which is the next organism to discuss. I don't know what it is, but this is the leaf that sprouted one moss sprig in one day when I had the leaf out of water. After I put the leaf back into water for one day, the moss sprig disappeared.

Perhaps this shows a little better the ephemeral greenness on top of the sediment layer on the leaf. This leaf is under water.

As I am also attempting to grow Natto bacteria, I can see similarities between these organisms under water. I am thinking that either the moss has a metamorphic life cycle, depending upon its environment, or it depends on some symbiotic bacteria to help it digest tough materials.

This is under water, after I completely disturbed its natural and untouched underwater structure. I can't help but notice the similarity between what is structurally going on on the leaf surface to the upper right, and the structure of this moss/bacteria that is floating above the surface of my fingers.

Here we have a cloudy liquid (looking into the side of a clear glass) that has a piece of clear plastic floating in it from which the Natto bacteria comes. This actually has a more brownish color than the Natto bacteria because I used some water from when I soaked some split peas, adding that water to a culture that had already been growing without the tint.Anyway, the cloudy group of bacteria which makes Natto -- supposedly the best source of the vitamin K2 -- sort of resembles the moss? underwater, except I have not observed a network in the Natto culture like the network through which the organism on the leaf and the moss on the rocks is intricately anchored.

I don't know what I am doing here. I am experimenting. This is an entry in a journal of my experiments and observations. I guess that what is growing on the submerged leaf is moss at some stage of its metamorphic life cycle and not bacteria because the Natto bacteria has no discernible network as moss does. I don't believe algae makes networks, either -- not exactly like the moss.

Please see the moss bioreactor from Wikipedia commons, and the Wikipedia entry where the bioreactor picture comes last in the entry. Anyway, the moss seems to be submerged and growing in the picture. Also, give to Wikipedia during their fundraiser, now.

Algae Or Moss?

One of the specimens that I got from the park yesterday was anchored to a leaf submerged in water and its greenery was quite ephemeral, resembling algae to me. Today I find a definite moss "sprout" next to where the "algae" was living yesterday on the leaf.

Today I put the leaf into our little rain barrel type of set-up as it was raining lightly. The algae-looking stuff is back to its ephemeral state in the water now.

PH testing today tells me that the park's water is more alkaline than our rainwater. 120 ppm for "total alkalinity" according to the AquaChek kit that I have, plus 6.8 pH, and 0.5 ppm free chlorine. Our rainwater registers the same for chlorine, roughly 6.2 pH, and 0 ppm for "total alkalinity." Mind you, our mini rain barrel also has leaves sitting in it.

The park had the same mixture of lichen, moss, and a fine green layer of something on its wooden bridge across its creek as we have in our backyard. Actually, the lichen likes trees, tree branches, and leaves more than treated wood.

I am beginning to wonder if the fine layer of green on the treated wood is not cyanobacteria instead of algae. And so, what I had thought -- also -- was algae may be only moss.

I had also glued the worst leaking joint on my CO/CO2 exhaust piping system several days ago and yesterday. The directions on the glue say you have to give it more time when the temperature is under 70 degrees. Tomorrow will be 69 degrees, so I hope all will be well with those joints and perhaps I will glue some more. I just don't want to limit the configuration possibilities with gluing stuff that is working well enough without glue.

Anyway, today or tomorrow I will be working on setting up some more growing vats, if only for lichen and moss, sadly enough.

Four Projects

1. I went to a local park and got mostly moss specimens that I will see if I can grow near our CO exhaust. I might have gotten one specimen of algae, too, and will place that into its own container of water by the exhaust.

2. I tore up some more of our shower, getting the stoop, tile, plaster, and most of the metal corners off and thrown away. I am working on imagining how I will rebuild it, but I still have lots of tearing down to do. I guess I will tear out as far as I find it to be damaged behind the tile. The floor is another big job that I am imagining how to tear out and rebuild. The rubber mat that I will use to waterproof it all lies flat on our basement floor now as I continue to try to imagine how I could cut and fold it all in one piece to go up the walls, across the floor and over the stoop.

3. I finally made the spacer for the very top hole of my generator housing mold. It was so difficult to cut the wood and rasp it to the precise shape and size that I will be very careful to try to preserve it so that I can use it to make more than one housing. I have pix of how I cut it on an angle all the way around the circumference, but let's wait until I prove that was worth all the work before I bother to figure out how to upload those pix.

4. I am still trying to think of places I could apply for a job. Money supplies are drying up. I would hate to have to give up this blog in order to save money.

Algae Acquisition Problems

A pond that was and/or is extremely loaded with algae that I knew from decades ago turns out to have its ownership transferred -- maybe two thirds of its ownership -- to people I don't know, and the third part is owned by a man I never met. It has been suggested that I go to the place and knock on nearby doors to find somebody to give me permission to take some algae. This is a decent idea. I will cogitate on that a while.

It was also suggested that I get an aquarium from which I would obtain algae. Two problems with that idea occur to me. One: I have never owned an aquarium and they introduce work and expenses I am not interested in spending. Two: the algae I wish to grow must tolerate freezing temperatures because it is wintertime when I most need to convert CO/CO2 to O2. Wintertime is when I generate CO by burning natural gas to heat our home.

So, Plan B: Search nearby parks with ponds for algae. In my mind I can recall a few places where algae grows in our local parks. So, I sense an algae acquisition field trip coming on. The two or three places I recall algae growing are mostly shaded during summer, too, btw, although there was a snake at one of them. I will save the snake home for last, lol.

End of Mayan Calender

Only a few more days until the end of the Mayan Calender, which some Chicken Littles think will be the end of the world. I forget whether the END OF DAYS is supposed to arrive on the 12th or the 20th of December. No, wait. Please see Link to Story. The end date is Dec. 21. And another webpage has several images of said Mayan Calender.

I am more inclined to believe the story I watched on TV sometime back about how Dec. 21, 2012, marks the beginning (more or less) of a flooding time for the earth, having witnessed Katrina and Sandy flood, experienced Ivan flooding, and being a firm believer in global warming.

In the meantime, I acquired a CO detector yesterday for my experiments on converting CO2 to O2 and carbon using algae. I also acquired S x S Ell, 45 degree PVC joints. The "S x S" stands for slip by slip, meaning two slip joints instead of collared sleeves on the "L" joint. (Some joints have one slip and one collared joint.) I had to travel a little further, to a larger hardware store to get the 45 degree, two slip jointed ells.

I spent time reading instructions on the CO detector. I had hoped to put it on the floor, inside the furnace, in order to detect gases backing up inside the air handling unit, but the instructions say "no" to putting the device anywhere windy or next to the furnace, etc. I had hoped to test it by putting it into the stream of the exhaust, but again, the instructions say I could damage it if I put it into a windy place. Oh well. It is better than nothing, if only so I can sleep better at night by not having to worry about not waking up in the morning due to CO asphyxiation.

So, to tie the Mayan Calender hysteria to my experiments with CO2 conversion, let us imagine that some day we will consider this conversion of CO2 to O2 process a necessary function of our culture on this planet in order to at least delay the worst flooding somewhat. Call me a pessimist as well as Ishmael. ("Call me Ishmael" comes from the first page of Moby Dick by Herman Melville, by the way.)

I feel that Melville's ship, the Pequoid -- which was named after an extinct Indian tribe -- symbolized the "Ship of State" which was the U.S. prior to our U.S. Civil War. Our teacher seemed to disagree with my assessment, so beware of using this idea in an English class. I was not the first to posit this interpretation, btw. And let me add one thing, they call it the benefit of hindsight, not the detriment of hindsight.

Preparations List (To-Do List) For CO2 Exp. #4

Do not forget that all the materials on this site are implicitly Copyright © by WindTapper for the year in which they are or were first posted on the web. I hope to use these materials in future publications as well, when they will be re-copyrighted.

1. Get CO2 detector in place before starting to build Exp. 4
2. Glue most joints
3. Acquire and install two 45 degree joints nearest back wall of house. This is the place where the inclination of the pipes must begin in order to drain condensation moisture away from the furnace effluent pipes. Experiments 1-3 had two 90 degree joints. I see now that these create the worst back pressure imaginable, which would cause gases to bunch up and possibly even flow backward where they are supposed to go outwards instead.
4. Lengthen the pipe between the two 45 degree angle joints to help reduce turbulence of the effluent within.

Not sure when all this will occur. The weather has turned colder and I have more company in the house on the weekend days, so turning off the heat to work on effluent piping is inconvenient. Also, I plan to apply for another job today. Too much debt....

CO+CO2 Experiment 3 Torn Down (Call Me Ishmael)

Call me Ishmael instead of "paranoid" but I tore down the connection to our furnace exhaust in the middle of last night for fear of fumes backing up into our house from the furnace having to pump exhaust harder than it usually does.

I had taped all the joints on the shortened piping of Experiment 3, and most of them held fairly well. However, upon inspection in the middle of the night, water was leaking from the first elbow's taped joint. Since water was leaking when I touched it, I also got my fingers wet. When I went to inspect other tapings, I had the water on my fingers so I could feel coolness when gas passed over them. One joint was not completely secure using only tape. The coupling taking the 2 inch pipe into 4 inch pipe. That one would have to be glued to have any hope of a seal.

That coupling, however, did not produce much of a leak, although the gas was being pushed backwards toward the house. Still it was not enough to worry about. Later in the night I decided to turn the final elbow so that it would push the emissions away from the house rather than obliquely toward a lower level of the house -- imagining that a leak of gases into the house could come through that lower level.

As I turned the final elbow I wondered at how easily it turned and what that said about the security of sealing with tape. Experiment 4 might have to occur with glue on almost all the joints -- except the first one so that I can disconnect it there if Experiment #4 also fails. As soon as I disconnected Experiment 3 I noticed we had an increase of gases coming in our kitchen window. Without my rigging, we normally are vulnerable to gas seeping back into the house from outside.....

Even though I was Ishmael, I was glad I was making these experiments before the winter sets in. I can turn the heat off for hours these days while I am working on the rigging. But I also worried about what could happen if I were to get a job and I was not around to supervise the operation of these experiments, or a working prototype. That worry kept me up all night, testing and finally tearing the rigging away from the furnace.

I have decided not to conduct a fourth and final experimental rigging to carry exhaust gases further away from the house unless and until I get a CO2 detector primed and ready inside our basement. We have one around here somewhere, but where?

Also, I got to wondering if it is necessary to put the CO+CO2 directly over the algae/lichen/moss vats because CO2 is heavier than normal air. It could flow in the general direction of the vats if they were strategically placed, anyway. Also, perhaps anything I can get to grow in winter would be equivalent to algae for CO2 conversion. Having a greenhouse, for example, could reduce CO2 in general, except at night. Except that we have a street lamp in our backyard....

Backyard Experiments in CO2 Reduction -- Record 1

1 Black plastic tray from Lowe's has the end of our furnace exhaust shooting our CO+CO2 across it. Filled as much as possible with water -- it is inclined on a hill -- it is weighted down with a heavy (maybe 20+ lbs.) rectangle of steel inside the water. I had added a. algae or cyanobacteria (green) scraped off our deck along with b. some of the red acrylic paint from our deck. c. Some sugar in the water. d. Old rusty tomato stake hoops because some algae/cyanobacteria grows on a rusty fence. This tray I put under a plastic table to shade it from the sun because our algae prefers to grow in the shade.

2. Clear plastic hanging basket drip pan, also under the table. This experiment started with a. a paper towel soaked in b. safflower oil drippings of turkey bacon that I fried up for dinner. c. Then water. d. Black Walnut twigs that had been laying on the ground and were impregnated with e. lichen. This concoction gave off a sewage kind of smell by the second day -- today.

3. a. Water plus b.the knot of a cottonwood tree that I picked up off the ground across town. As I was watering this clear plastic drawer, the knot kept disintegrating from its irregular surfaces. c. A piece of wood of unknown species. Both pieces of wood had no visible signs of either lichen nor of algae on them.

4. A second clear plastic drawer filled with a. water, so far. All of the above are under cover.

I expanded the surface of the table by sticking metal frames from old election signs, all around the table. Then I put a truck tarp and a multiply folded plastic drop "cloth" over the table and sign frames and tied down the edges of the tarp. I also put two rotting boards on top of the plastic and tarp on top of the table so the wind wouldn't get a purchase on the light weight coverings. The translucent plastic "cloth" will let some sunlight filter onto experiments 2, 3, and 4. Also, 2, 3, and 4 are exposed to light from the street lamp that we have in our backyard -- so they get dim light all night long plus exposure to the CO+CO2 gas emissions from our furnace.

I plan to add more vats/experiments, as well as figuring out what to put into #4. Each vat has its own position and so will have its own particular exposure to the gas, although, each vat's exposure will also depend on the ambient wind direction, as well as its position relative to the main flow of the emissions.

I plan to come back here to add data when changes and additions are made to these four experiments, but I hope to add many more vats. I am also considering casting little cement ponds someday, but I need to take into consideration the lay of the land as well as utility restraints. Our sewer line is very close to this set-up, for example. I can not build a permanent pond over the line, nor set up a drainage system that might interfere with that line nor get entangled with it.

I hope to take pictures to add to this record. Also, I know of a pond that is loaded with algae. I might try to contact one of its owners to see if he would let me have maybe 10 handfuls of algae for my experiments. But that algae should be kept separate -- mostly -- from what I have gathered from this location because I know algae, lichen, and moss from here like to grow here, heavily poisoned by our Black Walnut trees.

Hmmm. The moss loves to grow on our roof shingles in mostly shaded places, too. That should be another experiment. Trying to grow algae in water is a large part of this experiment because so far I find it only coating solid surfaces. I am afraid it is more likely that the green stuff I find in one of my planter drip pans is cyanobacteria rather than algae. I also need to gain access to a microscope someday so that I can sort these two green critters apart.

What is Carbon Sequestration?

AHa! "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See"... because "you only get to play this game once."

I had heard and seen that some people were making concrete from carbon emissions and I tried to look up this process on the web, but I haven't yet found it. Growing algae seems to be difficult and not fruitful enough on a DIY basis, at least so far, to me.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

So on this Thanksgiving I have been websurfing and now have a link to share to a YOUTUBE site where several videos reside concerning CCS -- alternately called "CO2 Capture and Storage" and "CO2 Capture and Sequestration." Click on the white letters in the previous sentence to get there, if you don't mind getting put to sleep by some very mesmerizing background music from time to time.

So far the technology available to our back yard seems to be soil sequestration where you take biomass and plow it into the soil in order to sequester carbon. I still have to grow something, though. One interesting observation is that the day I had CO+CO2 leaking around our greenhouse -- NOT RECOMMENDED BTW! -- some of my lettuce plants doubled in size. Perhaps I could grow anything and not just algae, lichen, moss, and cyanobacteria.

EXCEPT that growing anything would tend to cause persons to try to walk up to those plants where the CO+CO2 would asphyxiate them. So, somehow, I need to figure out how to grow algae inside closed containers that have CO+CO2 pumped into the liquid, I guess.

So maybe a wind powered pump?

Here's a specific video discussing biochar versus compost => the compost wins, folks.

AHa! "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See"... because "you only get to play this game once."

My CO+CO2 Sequester Dream

This project is a dream at this point. I have no idea where to go to get ideas for experimenting with building such a contraption. So far I have conducted two experiments for safely redirecting the CO+CO2 from our house's furnace. Now, what to do with the gases while maintaining safety?

Algae is the plant that I have most often seen converting CO+CO2 back into oxygen gas plus some form of solid carbon (on the web), but our house seems to like to grow lots of lichen and moss compared to the biomass of algae that grows on our house, stones, and trees in our yard. One website tells of "algae, lichen, liverwort and moss on hard surfaces", saying they indicate clean air, moisture, and shade. I wonder how much of these are needed to negate the CO+CO2 for heating the average house in winter?

I wonder how much CO+CO2 that lichen can convert to oxygen plus solid carbon compared to algae?

Anyway, so far I have spent some intrigued time at having found a nice picture for a greenhouse full of experiments I would like to send you to. However, converting CO+CO2 does not lend itself, exactly, to having a greenhouse that you can walk or crawl around inside, since those gases are deadly killers....

1.  Plugging "CO" into the "Search" line at so far I have gotten to a picture and page of "disambiguation" -- as Wiki calls it -- between cyanobacteria and algae -- as though I were not already confused! Cyanobacteria grows as straight chains, btw, so these can be distinguished from algae with a microscope.

BTW, I noticed an oil slick on the surface of the water in my vat of algae. Oil is what algae produces, in addition to oxygen.

I wonder if I should be preserving the lichen that I am now washing down the drain as I scrape it off our gutter guards? Hmmm. Does anyone want to buy some lichen? Let me know if you want some for making your own experiments. Send queries to with the subject line: LICHEN if you are interested in acquiring some. I have plenty on the other side of our house's gutters because I did not scrub those this year, so far.

Remember, algae is symbiotic with lichen. I finally found a use for those old yard sign pieces of metal framing. I can put these around the final outflow of the exhaust in our yard and put plastic dropcloths over the tops of these. Then I can set bowls of various experimental concoctions under the dropcloth, within the frames, and see how each of them are at growing CO+CO2 sequester agents.

The first bowl will have wood with algae in it, along with some Black Walnut leaf litter and lichen plus water. And, by the way, window washing fluid based on ammonia is another possible elemental spritz I could add occasionally because algae loves nitrogen, too.

I have also decided to stop flushing the lichen down the drain and start saving it for experiments and for sale.

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