DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

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spinningmagnets   100 GW

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DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by spinningmagnets » Mar 17 2018 10:46pm

A few days ago, I stumbled onto a string of videos by RMS. They covered a wide variety of subjects, but the main theme over the last five years has been a slow steady march to documenting how to make super capacitors in your garage, in a safe, easy, and cheap manner.

He now has a company, First Working Generation, FWG. The lofty goals are many in nature.

Do not use exotic elements, or expensive elements (cobalt, for instance). Non-hazardous for easy and safe disposal if damaged by using common trash collection. Find a way to easily and cheaply make graphene, and use it in a way that dramatically increases the capacity of DIY super capacitors. For instance, one video shows how to make a cheap ball-mill and attach it to a drill press (to make a fine powder from carbon).

Another video shows how to make conductive ink that is doped with DIY graphene and can be applied to paper as the matrix by a common office printer. How to make unusually thin foil that has graphene impregnated for conductivity (graphoil?), as the collectors, since increasing the plate surface area per volume is the key to high capacity.

This is not perfect lab-grade single-layer nano-graphene (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bTwAi2UtO0). At best it averages 3-layers (per his claim), but...it's damn good and dirt cheap once the very affordable equipment is built. This has yet to be publicly tested by a recognized expert 3rd party, but...he has built a 20S pack of 1.5V cells for 36V, and he has been riding a scooter with it. There is no chemical reaction, it is only a capacitor collector plate pair that is unusually thin, and has many hundreds of super-thin layers squeezed into cells, using graphene to increase the surface area on the plates (on a microscopic scale).

As a capacitor, it can be charged at an unusually fast rate, and can also provide an unusually high C-rate of discharge. It can operate in extreme cold at a level that would be difficult for a chemical battery, and also extreme heat. He "claims" he has achieved an energy capacity (range) equal to current lithium-ion batteries, but there is nobody disputing that these super capacitors should last a lifetime, instead of wearing out in a few years.

In the early videos, he chose a tiny quadcopter motor with 3-bladed propeller as the common load for all the cell testing. The tiny load was because he was going to be testing hundreds of super capacitor prototypes, so he wanted the initial SC's to be small (roughly one centimeter square, close to one-half inch). After years, he settled on four main SC combinations, and then began making larger SC prototypes. The recent scooter super-capacitor (if that's what it really is) looks like a standard 48V 20-Ah lithium battery-pack in size.

Is this real? There seems to be dozens of videos covering every aspect of the material selection and assembly, and there doesn't seem to be any "secret sauce". I hope it is real. Either way, I feel this would be of interest to many of the builders here, so...here's a few links to get you started. There are quite a few places where he began calling the super-capacitors "batteries", and near the end, he calls the final style Electrical Energy Storage Device/ EESD.



Using a printer to make SC's
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2alSybwwSEk

Simple and cheap way to make graphene
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvqkH0WLvyc

DIY conductive ink
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyGX-VyXXTQ

The scooter, 1.5V, 20S, 36V
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlETscs0IVo

Combining super capacitors and batteries at a cell level
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1jusadHkmM

Optional components when you DIY super capacitors
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ce2au3PWnI

Cheap and easy solid electrolyte for SC's (2013)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ogpeaklho_M

Four battery types they developed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CLfynG3ECk

How to make a battery out of a carrot
(baking carrots down to being carbon, then making large capacitors from it)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeqdwPm ... e=youtu.be

Here is an index of his youtube videos
https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertMurraySmith/videos

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Hillhater » Mar 17 2018 11:53pm

I followed his videos for several years and eventually assumed he was going nowhere despite some apparently brilliant ideas.
Its good to see they have now formed a company (FWG) and are bringing products to market.
Particularly impressed by their "C6 Powerblade". Paper graphite cell.
https://youtu.be/JP41vCUBz9Y
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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Punx0r » Mar 18 2018 5:50am

If he was claiming to have approached the capacity of existing commercial caps but using novel methods to make a them cheaper/simpler/greener then that would be plausible.

However, he's claiming to have bettered them by at least an order of magnitude and achieved the supercap holy grail - capacity rivalling li-ion. This is hardly an area industry and acedemia has failed to research. So Occam's razor strongly suggests his claims are bogus.

Also, why do all that work and not publish simple discharge curves to back up your claims? From your description it seems he has not done this. Also, if I was looking for credibility/investment/customers, the first thing I'd do would be to have my product claims independently tested and certified by an accredited laboratory/test house.

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by spinningmagnets » Mar 18 2018 6:51am

I came across several impressive videos in the series, and as a result I set aside time to watch quite a few and take notes. If it is a scam, it is quite an impressive "long game". There are dozens of verifiable and useful bits along the way (even a broken clock is right twice a day? The biggest lies have a grain of truth?).

Comparing his claimed results against my previous research, the only claim I am skeptical of is the range. Near the end of the video series, I must confess I was very impressed by the display of the 36V scooter being ridden, and the "black box" being pulled out of the battery compartment, which matched the image of the large rectangular SC bank he had been assembling in the previous videos. Of course that would be easy to "fake" for the benefit of potential investors.

They have purchased a "Twizy" from Renault / France, and it is a small two-seat tandem electric vehicle that Americans would dismiss as a 40-MPH "golf cart" that is legal to drive on the streets. He mentions that it was affordable to buy, and it is owned by them, rather than the stock battery being leased (which he claims is popular in EU). He didn't want to pay for the battery lease since he wouldn't be using the stock battery, but he did want an affordable new vehicle that was already an EV and was light (according to him).

They claim he will be driving the Twizy from southern UK to the northern tip on a publicity tour (in three months, June-ish?) during what I can only assume is the three days of the UK summer. Presumably having third parties verify that it doesn't simply have a fake lithium pack inside an SC case. I guess we will see.

Renault Twizy
https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/renault/twizy

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Harold in CR » Mar 18 2018 7:38am

I watched a video last night from a guy that took activated carbon and ground it with a coffee grinder. Then used 2 mesh sifters and shook them over his kitchen sink, allowing the very fines to be washed down the drain. ?
Then he used the next coarser ground stuff to "attach" to 2 aluminum plates using clear polyurethane varnish?. Then folded a paper towel and placed it over 1 plate, soaked it with hydrofluoric ? acid and laid the second plate on it and squeezed them together with spring clamps.

Then he vacuum sealed and shrink wrapped the "sandwich" cell and hooked it to a tiny motor. I think he might have charged it some, can't remember, anyway, he ran the motor for over 10 minutes without a break in the video taping. It started out at .9 something volts and the motor drew .31 ma dropping to .23 ma while cell discharged to .37v. I was confused why he didn't keep the really fine carbon instead of the next coarser grade to plate the 2 aluminum plates. The 2 plates were about the size of credit card or just a tad larger.

He says as he continues to use the cell, it will gain some capacity. He has other supplies to experiment with and this cell was one of several he has made.

Using under 1 volt and ma's doesn't mean much, but, it was nice to see his construction.
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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by spinningmagnets » Mar 18 2018 8:33am

Sounds like this video (29 minutes):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar3C5JgzhgE

coffee grinder and mesh sifting at 3:00, mixing purchased graphene with urethane and applying to the collector plates at 6:20, applying graphene / urethane mix to plates, then immediately covering the graphene layer with the sifted carbon grains at 7:37. Adding phosphoric acid as an electrolyte to the cloth being used as a separator at 10:30. Assembly at 11:33.

Configuration:

Aluminum plate....thin layer of graphene-powder + urethane...layer of sifted carbon grains...paper towel section doped with acid (electrolyte?) in the center...layer of sifted carbon grains...graphene and urethane...aluminum plate.

Take the sandwich and seal it inside a plastic sleeve with a wire from each plate exiting the envelope.

note: capacitors don't seem to have an issue with location of electrodes and current-sharing of the mass of active material. By that I mean that I noticed he placed the electrode wires at opposite corners (he even mentions for a high-discharge / charge capacitor, he would add thicker wires and attach them at every corner). So...If using liquid electrolyte, there is apparently no performance penalty by having both electrodes at the top of the cell of a capacitor, to prevent drippage in poorly-sealed examples.

edit: I don't know if the tiny jar really contains "true" graphene powder, and I don't know if I am using the correct terminology for any of this...I just found it interesting, and felt that others here would be curious also...

This is the product he claims to be using, and the product claims to be 5-grams (for $100) of "A-12" graphene containing micro-flakes, each made from 3-layers of graphene up to 12-layers. The theory is that graphene flakes can dramatically increase the surface area of a plate, which allows a greater amount of charge to be held onto it.

https://graphene-supermarket.com/Graphe ... m-5-g.html

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Harold in CR » Mar 18 2018 1:23pm

Sounds like the one I was watching. It was late and I forgot some of the details. :oops: :roll:
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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Hillhater » Mar 18 2018 7:12pm

That RMS video of basic combining of supercapacitor and lead acid in one cell made me follow up on the "Ultrabattery". https://youtu.be/N1jusadHkmM
It may be old news to some of you , but the "ultrabattery" seems to have passed under the radar for some reason ?
On another thread (wind , Solar, coal, etc etc) i had posted about the Australian King Island micro grid project, with Solar, wind, diesel, battery storage, etc ,...all combined in a micro utility scale grid to research performance.
http://www.kingislandrenewableenergy.com.au
Dispite several enquiries i could not find what type of battery they were using, but now i have discovered they are using a 3.0MW, 1.6 MWh , "Ecoult Ultrabattery" ,..and have been for several years
However it seems impossible to get any detail feedback as to its performance etc
https://www.ecoult.com/technology/ultrabattery
So "Supercapacitor Batteries". Of one form at least, Are available commercially !
PS, i believe these "Ultrabatteries" are now produced in the USA by East Pen Manufacturing, under the name "Deka" battery.
http://www.eastpennmanufacturing.com/ta ... rabattery/
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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by farringtonj276@gmail.com » Sep 18 2018 12:18pm

This "scientist" is nothing more than a thief. He openly admits to searching for others peoples works and copies them for his videos. At first he was going this for the love of science and he would provide the paper and details on the experiments he presented on his channel. Over the last year or two this has completely changed, however the technology he is talking about has existed for years and well researched.

The electric car trip was a complete scam to get money from viewers and businesses. His directorship/ownership with other companies no making products and investors losing millions is another concern. No independent data for his battery technology? no patents? What has happened to all the people in the lab? He said he has no money yet he has just purchased a machine for £100k... Where did that money come from? Also new premises? I smell a rat.

Maybe its his business partners? or maybe its his own greed? That Gary was involved in Sun Vault as well I believe.. His background screams scammer... Word to the wise, stay well clear of these guys!

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by farringtonj276@gmail.com » Sep 18 2018 12:49pm

What has happened to the electric car trip? What a scam to get money from viewers! This really makes me mad.. No independent data for his battery technology? no patents? He said he has no money yet he has just purchased a machine for £100k... Where did that money come from? Also new premises? That Gary was involved in Sun Vault as well I believe.. His background screams scammer... Word to the wise, stay well clear of these guys!

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Mart76 » Sep 30 2018 11:55am

I watched a lot of his videos, cauz I wanted to build a SuperCap myself. After a while I gave up and came to the conclusion that this guy just likes to hear himself talking.
Waste of time.

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by neptronix » Sep 30 2018 12:18pm

eccentric and often difficult personalities come with the territory. Learn from them what you can, and leave the rest in the garbage bin. :)
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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by spinningmagnets » Sep 30 2018 12:36pm

I don't feel he has been proven to be a scam, but...I also don't feel he has been vindicated yet by a trusted third party.

The problem with making a VERY simple product is that doing that is so easy to copy. If we truly can make an affordable super-capacitor in our garage, who would ever risk money to start a business producing them?

That being said, I look forward to evidence being posted, rather than opinion.

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by liveforphysics » Sep 30 2018 4:31pm

Everything he uses an aqueous not de-ionized electrolyte in is a scam, as it would self discharge and gas out in minutes to hours if it were "charged."
Each carcinogen vapor exposure includes a dice roll for cancer.

Each mutagen vapor exposure includes a dice roll for reproductive genetic defects in your children.

Each engine start sprays them into a shared atmosphere which includes beings not offered an opportunity to consent accepting these cancer experiences and defective genetics life experiences.

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by lizardmech » Oct 29 2018 9:33am

I have been following him for a while as well. He says he is getting close to starting limited production and seems to have a work space set up. Interestingly I was talking to him in youtube comments, assuming he gets working ones he was unsure what sort of markets to sell them to. His current plan is to package them in 12v car battery cases and sell them as a higher capacity alternative to lead acid but lower capacity and cost than lithium, I suggested if he could deliver on the specs he listed they would be popular with ebike and other diy EV groups and that he should consider selling individual cells but he's largely unfamiliar with the market. As for the specs he's claiming about 1kwh for an 8kg battery, the cells are a little complex, from what I could understand from a short youtube comment, each "cell" is effectively 6 cells, however the cells in the middle are in a bipolar arrangement with each cell sharing an anode and cathode with the adjacent one. I think he is then planning to put 5 or 6 of them connected in parallel for the car battery. Specs he was claiming was 200C peak discharge and 1C charge though I'm unsure if he means the entire battery or the bipolar cells individually.

Based on those specs energy density is lower than lithium however with high discharge rates, large cycle life and not having to deal with the headaches that come with lithium batteries they would still be worth while. I'm still unsure if he can deliver on his claims, there was actually a US company called paper battery co selling something similar which makes me believe it a little more. His battery is claiming about 5x more capacity but it's within the realm of something that could be possible with some sort of unique design.

I told him I would post about it on some ebike forums to see if there's any interest at that sort of energy to weight density, if people are interested just tell him on youtube I guess, he generally responds and is easy enough to talk to.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3mJEOI21OU

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Username1 » Dec 04 2018 1:46am

I'v also followed him for a while. He's recently posted some videos showing his new space he's setting up for producing batteries to actually sell. His initial plans were to make a more automated setup with expensive equipment, but ended up going for a more manual approach. It seems the building is done being setup for the most part, and looks to be making batteries any time now.

He posts so many videos covering different topics and variations, that it can be hard to keep track of what exactly he's working on... But from what i'v gathered for the most part, his "batteries" seem to actually be capacitors, with varying energy densities. I think he's starting production with something very comparable to lead acid (for energy density), and supposedly has others in the works that are on par with, and even surpass lithium ion batteries.

I totally think capacitors are the superior technology, and will make batteries obsolete in the (possibly near) future. Batteries rely on chemical reactions, and because of this they are inherently complicated, finicky and riddled with compromises. Capacitors on the other hand are vastly simpler, and are almost perfect in many characteristics...

- much simpler than batteries
- instant charging and discharging
- lasts forever, no degradation
- drain to 0% and charge to 100% no problem
- no cooling or heating needed (works in extreme temperatures, doesn't heat up during use)
- non-toxic and non-flammable

I kind of wonder sometimes why there's so much battery research given all their numerous problems, when simply creating a capacitor with higher energy density would basically create a holy grail "battery". I look forward to seeing if his capacitors are the real deal, because if they are he's really created something quite impressive. Especially considering they're supposedly made of carbon and should be very environmentally friendly and potentially very cheap. Btw i'm no expert here, that's just what i make of it with my very limited knowledge.
Last edited by Username1 on Dec 04 2018 5:18am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Punx0r » Dec 04 2018 4:09am

Caps do have some advantages, but they also have their own inherent weaknesses. Not least the poor energy density from storing charge as an electric field.
Username1 wrote:
Dec 04 2018 1:46am
- much simpler than batteries
- instant charging and discharging
- lasts forever, no degradation
- drain to 0% and charge to 100% no problem
- no cooling or heating needed (works in extreme temperatures, doesn't heat up during use)
- non-toxic and non-flammable
-They are simpler
-Charging and discharging are much faster, but still limited by internal impedance
-They can be long lived, but they still wear out - especially electrolytics, which are the relatively energy-dense ones
-Yep, full cycles are no problem, but the voltage also drops from 100 to 0% as they discharge, which is a real problem
-While less prone to it due to lower impedance than batteries, capacitors can, and do, overheat
-They're pretty innocuous, but the smoke from electrolytics doesn't seem very pleasant, indicating something chemical-y inside ;)

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Username1 » Dec 04 2018 5:39am

Good points. I was kind of exaggerating/generalizing a fair amount and probably should have mentioned that. Though in practice i think some of my points would hold true in a very general sense. For example charging may not be instant but it's still extremely fast and probably limited by the power source in many cases. Or life cycles, certain kinds are in the millions of cycles, but perhaps even some faster wearing types might outlast the devices they're in. In other words, capacitors themselves would often not be the weakest link, unlike how current batteries often are.

On your point about the voltage dropping with the energy... I'v heard that before and it certainly seems like a problem. Are there not ways though to multiply the voltage as it drops, to maintain a constant voltage with some kind of device?

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Punx0r » Dec 04 2018 5:44pm

You're right: an electrolytic cap across the mains, being charged/discharged 50 or 60 times a second will probably die quite quickly by capacitor standards, but in an application like a vehicle it would last a lifetime compared to li-ion batteries. And yes, their IR is so low compared to batteries that for a car-sized pack charge rates will be limited by the grid power available or even just the size of the charging cable. That said, the best li-ion batteries ("lipo") have power densities better than the super/ultra caps, which are optimised for energy density.

I'm not sure how capacitor-powered vehicles built so far (I believe China has/had some cap-powered city buses that recharged at each stop) managed the wide voltage range. It's possible with a dc-dc converter, but it's more cost a modest hit to efficiency.

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Hillhater » Dec 04 2018 10:36pm

the energy density (size/watt). and cost ($/Watt) are all against Supercaps.
read this..
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... ilit=sirus
amberwolf wrote:
Mar 05 2018 12:49am
Also remember that supercapacitors are generally lower voltage units, so you'd have to put several in series for a useful voltage range.
When you do this, the capacitances add inversely (not sure taht's the right word), rather than directly, so you have to then parallel more of them to get the same capacitance. Meaning, if you have to use 10 in series to get the voltage you're after, you then only have 1/10 the capacitance, so you now have to parallel 10 series strings of 10 capacitors to get the same capacitance you would have had with just one capacitor at the lower voltage.
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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Username1 » Dec 05 2018 11:22pm

I'v also heard that, about how capacitors do not increase the energy capacity when in series . If anyone has an extremely simple explanation for why that is, i'd love to hear it (was confused when reading other explanations).

If capacitors were to power ebikes for example, wouldn't you want to develop a motor that runs on very high amps and very low volts since capacitors in series don't add energy capacity?

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by Punx0r » Dec 06 2018 6:18am

Capacitors store charge by the electrostatic phenomenom: two conductive plates (one positive, one negative) separated by an insulator. The spacing is critical: the closer they are, the stronger the electric field strength and the more charge is stored, so a very thin insulator is desired (but this limits the voltage it can withstand, so it's a tradeoff for capacitor design).

When you two caps in series you connect the inner two plates.

Separate:

(+) -l l- (-) (+) -l l- (-)

Joined:

(+) -l l--l l- (-)

This brings them to the same voltage potential (no longer is one pos and one neg), so while they pass charge through the series circuit, they do not store charge. Only the outer two plates are active. The number of active plates has halved compared to two separate (or parallel) connected caps, hence the capacitance is half that of a single cap.

However, since there is now two layers of insulation between the two active plates, the voltage the assembly can withstand has doubled.

So caps in series = twice the voltage but half the capacitance

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Re: DIY Super Capacitors, and Robert Murray-Smith

Post by amberwolf » Dec 06 2018 8:57pm

Username1 wrote:
Dec 05 2018 11:22pm


If capacitors were to power ebikes for example, wouldn't you want to develop a motor that runs on very high amps and very low volts since capacitors in series don't add energy capacity?
You wouldn't want to power ebikes from capacitors, simply because they are MUCH less energy dense than batteries.

You can only use a tiny portion of the energy in a capacitor, because it has energy all teh way to zero volts, but a controller can't use that energy. You mgiht in theory be able to design one that does, but the conversion process it would have to use would waste energy and create heat.

A battery only has energy in a specific small range, so it is very useful for powering ebikes, as the controller does not have to convert a wide voltage range, just use what's there.



As for high amps at low volts--you can do it if you want to, but the size of the components, wires, and device would be quite large and heavy compared to something at higher voltage, for the same power output. YOu'd also need a motor designed to run on the low voltage, to get the same RPM as a higher voltage. Can't just directly hook up to an existng ebike, or it will be running proportionally slower (which is something like 1/10 the speed, if you have say a 5v cap-powered controller vs a 48v battery-powered controller), and at much lower power and acceleration because of winding resistance, etc.

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