Friday Offcuts 27 November 2015
Again in this week’s issue we profile an array of new innovations - locally and globally. In the lower South Island of New Zealand, a small company, ForestPlus Oils, is now producing essential oils from Douglas fir and has just landed a four year deal to supply oil to the world's largest essential oil reseller, Utah-based DoTerra. From Australia we’ve got a story on a local company that’s assessed systems used successfully overseas to harvest trees underwater. They’re now planning to apply this same harvesting technology to extract around 80,000 tonnes of timber from Tasmanian dammed waterways (check out the link to the full story and images below).
In Sweden, two research institutes have joined forces to produce the first ever carbon fibre composite produced from 100 percent softwood lignin. Although only on a laboratory scale at this stage, plans are already afoot to profile and demonstrate this new light weight material for future use in the automotive industry. And in Tokyo, the first multi-story building designed entirely with timber materials has been constructed. It’s taken almost a decade of research to reintroduce wood back into Japanese urban architecture and to meet the cities very strict fire regulations.
We also take a look into the future of the building industry. Last week we covered a story on a 3D printer that could be put onto the back of a truck, shipped out to a construction site and then used to construct an entire building in just 24 hours. This week we look at how robots are now changing the face of the building and construction industry. Whereas in the past robots have generally been limited to controlled manufacturing environments, robotics and robots increasingly are being designed to move about and operate in uncontrolled environments alongside people and other robots.
Finally, the New Zealand Government this week announced that it’s seeking public submissions on the official review of the six year-old ETS. Forestry is expected to play a key role in these submissions. Carbon prices fluctuating from $20 per tonne of carbon in the early days of the scheme to as low as 20 cents in 2013 and 2014 when emitters were buying bargain basement carbon units from European schemes have really hit forest planting over this period. The industry – and you’d think Government – will be keen to encourage afforestation as this an essential component of the country’s plans to meet future carbon reduction targets. Details on the scheme and the submissions process can be found below. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
NZ Government begins review of ETSThe New Zealand Government has begun its review of the Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) to assess its operation and effectiveness to 2020 and beyond, Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser announced on Tuesday.
“In July we set an ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions after 2020,” said Mr Groser. “This review will look at how the NZ ETS may have to evolve to support New Zealand in meeting this new target.
The review will focus on three key areas: what to do about some transition measures that were introduced to moderate the initial impacts of the NZ ETS, how the NZ ETS needs to evolve to meet our future targets, and operational and technical improvements.
A discussion document sets out the key issues for consideration under the review, which has been released on the Ministry for the Environment’s website. Submissions are being called for in two stages: the first stage focusing on priority issues, closes on 19 February 2016; and the second on other matters, closes on 30 April 2016.
“The discussion document is primarily aimed at businesses, iwi, the forestry sector, energy users, and non-governmental organisations. I encourage careful consideration of the issues set out in the discussion document to inform the future direction of the NZ ETS,” said Mr Groser.
“The Government has decided not to include agriculture in the scope of the review. The Government has previously said it would only bring biological emissions from agriculture fully into the NZ ETS if there were economically viable and practical technologies to reduce these emissions.
“We are putting considerable investment in research and development to find new options to reduce agricultural emissions, and we will continue to work with the agricultural sector to enable and incentivise the sector to adopt new mitigation options as they become available. However, the full inclusion of agriculture in the NZ ETS remains off the table at present,” said Mr Groser.
Technical notes will be published in early 2016 to support and inform submissions. The review will involve research, analysis and stakeholder engagement. Officials will report to Ministers on the review in 2016.
Submissions can be made online, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to the Ministry for the Environment, PO Box 10362, Wellington 6143. The discussion document can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.
Are robots the future of building?While prefabrication and building information modelling occupy a large part of the limelight when it comes to innovation in building and construction throughout Australia, one area which is less discussed is that of robotics and especially robots which can move about and operate in an uncontrolled environment on site.
Traditionally limited to controlled environments, a new generation of robots are coming into commercial use which can move, learn and interact with people and other machines and have dexterity and flexibility.
In the hospitality sector, robotic staff at Tokyo’s new Hen-na Hotel man the front desk, carry luggage, clean rooms and pour coffee. In construction, a commercial version of Perth-based Fastbrick Robotics’ Hadrian robot, which can lay up to 1,000 bricks per hour and construct the entire frame of a detached house within two days, is expected in around twelve months.
More is on the way. In the UK, the University of Leeds is pioneering a £4.2 billion project to create robots and drones that perch like birds and repair street lights, autonomously inspect, diagnose, repair and prevent potholes in roads, and live in utility pipes while performing inspection, repair, metering and reporting tasks.
Exoskeletons which people fit into, meanwhile, are being targeted to reduce injuries and help take weight off when lifting or holding heavy objects. Climbing robots that can 3D print entire buildings are being experimented with.
Martin Loosemore FCIOB, FRICS, a professor of Construction Project Management at the University of New South Wales, says the future will see operator controlled robots working on site alongside people and other robots.
“You can imagine a construction site in the future and you will have self-driving machinery with machines and people working together on site,” Loosemore said. “You’ve got a small group of specialists overseeing hundreds of robots who are interacting naturally with the rest of the robot workforce and producing the building in a much more precise, cost effective and speedy way.” More >>.
92% of adults will have a smartphone in 12 monthsSmartphone ownership among adults has risen from 69% to 79.5% in the past year, according to a new survey by Horizon Research in New Zealand. In an October 2014 study Horizon forecast 10.4% more adults would acquire a smartphone during the following 12 months. This month’s research bears that out with a 10.5% rise to 79.5%.
The equivalent of 2,543,173 people aged 18+ now have a smartphone. Horizon says another 11.4% of adults – equivalent to 364, 681 adults – intend to acquire a smartphone during the next 12 months.
Horizon says the adoption of smartphone technology by about nine out of every 10 adults has significant implications for those providing products and services. By occupation, 100% of professionals, senior government officials, business managers and executives and farm owners and managers now have a smartphone.
There is a distinct preference for smartphone brand in different sectors: iPhones are favoured over android ones in the wholesale trade by 63% to 37% and agriculture, forestry or fishing by 53% to 35%. Androids are favoured over iPhones by 61% to 39% in the accommodation, café or restaurant sector, 77% to 20% in construction. 82% of those in personal and other services have android smartphones.
Horizon says the latest survey, conducted between October 30 and November 16, 2015, indicates adult smartphone ownership will reach 92% by this time next year.
Low carbon high strength fire rated composite deckingA new decking solution introduced by UBIQ is helping homeowners living in the bushfire-prone regions of Australia create safe and long-lasting timber-look decks on their property.
INEX>DECKING from UBIQ is a concrete composite decking material that looks incredibly like timber. This low carbon, high strength cement-based decking board is engineered to deliver greater durability according to the company than traditional timber decking solutions. Suitable for both residential and commercial installations, UBIQ’s BAL-FZ fire rated decking boards are non-combustible, making them an ideal choice for property owners rebuilding or renovating after a bushfire.
The INEX>DECKING is an advanced high strength, low carbon fibre-reinforced Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC) product. It contains 60 per cent post-industrial recycled materials, and the company says it is an affordable and longer-lasting replacement for conventional timber decking boards as well as other composite decking products.
Completely free of asbestos content or any toxin, the decking boards are also resistant to mould and termite attacks. The highly durable decking product comes with the assurance of a 20-year warranty. For more information on the replacements for timber decking products, click here.
Innovations, developments and trends in wood treatment, including composites and EWP, is a key theme for next years’ Wood Innovations 2016 event being run in both Australia and New Zealand in mid-late May. Full programme details will be available in the new-year. Further information on the technology event can be found on the event website, www.woodinnovations.events.
Refining essence of NZ forestsWhen Paul Greaves suffered a brain stem stroke back in 2012, it forced some major changes in his life. Not only did he have to learn to walk again but, after more than four decades working in the forestry industry, he found he could no longer handle the high pressure of his job.
But a passion for the industry remained and, when he met Michael Sly, now a director of Wilding and Co, and Mathurin Molgat, and they talked about wanting to turn Douglas fir into essential oil, his interest was aroused. Mr Greaves had been thinking about such a thing for about eight years but did not have any knowledge of the market.
Now Mr Greaves and his ForestPlus Oils team are working with Wilding and Co to produce oil for Utah-based DoTerra, the world's largest essential oil reseller, and sending oil to the United States every two weeks.
New Zealand Douglas fir oil was launched to 40,000 delegates and an online audience of two million at a convention in Salt Lake City in September, after Wilding and Co signed a multimillion-dollar global deal to supply DoTerra for the next four years.
Designing a still to carry out the vacuum distillation of the tree parts to produce the required oils was a new experience and Mr Greaves enlisted some advice from his brother. The still was designed by Mr Greaves and fabricated by Paynes Aluminium in Mosgiel. Following his stroke, he found he could only focus on a single element, so he focused on building each part of the still, rather than its entirety.
He realised manpower was needed and he brought his son Jared Greaves and another forestry industry stalwart, Steve Johnson, on board. Meetings were held with forestry companies who were supportive.
It was not until Mr Greaves went to Utah and saw what DoTerra was doing that he realised the concept had a lot of merit. Up until then it had been a 'wilding story', which he likened to a small backyard operation producing the likes of lavender oil. More >>
Source: Otago Daily Times
ETS review an opportunity for NZ forestryThis week’s announcement of the start of a review of the NZ ETS brings an opportunity to consider how New Zealand can further incentivise the planting of more forests, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.
The review will be run in two stages. Stage one will focus on the current situation where non-forestry participants can surrender only one NZU for every two tonnes of emissions, or pay the Government a fixed price of $25 per NZU. Submissions on this stage will close on 19 February 2016.
Stage two will consider ways to improve the operation of the NZ ETS and set its future direction. Technical notes will be released to support discussion on these issues. These will include information on a number of issues of interest to foresters, including:
- accounting methodologies for post-1989 foresters, including averaging, harvested wood products, and emissions from adverse events;
- the exemption provisions for tree weeds for pre-1990 forests;
- the transfer of participation for post-1989 forestry; and
- the penalty and prosecution regime.
“We will begin engaging with the sector in early 2016, once the technical notes have been released,” says Mrs Goodhew. “Submissions on stage two will close on 30 April 2016 and I expect proposals will be developed by the end of 2016.
“Foresters engagement will help us achieve greater regulatory certainty, improve the scheme’s operational efficiency, and remove unnecessary barriers to planting.” For more information, visit www.mfe.govt.nz/more/consultations.
Harvesting Tasmania's submerged forestsThe magnificent forests of Tasmania's remote west coast appear prehistoric, but hidden among the trees are a series of man-made hydro waterways that are barely 30 years old. Underneath the inky tannin-stained waters hides sunken treasure that one innovative company is bringing to the surface.
Sustainable Forestry Solutions managing director Andrew Morgan said the project had been in planning for a long time. "It's pretty surreal, it's been a baby of ours for three years and to take it from paper drawings to actually standing at Lake Pieman and pulling out trees, it's pretty monumental," he said.
The skeletons of giant eucalypts poke through the 50-kilometre long lake, hinting at a wealth of forests underneath. Incredibly Mr Morgan's company found a way to harvest underwater trees. They looked overseas at similar underwater harvesting projects.
"What we saw was that you can do this, it is possible," he said. "We then went and approached Hydro Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government about a feasibility study and they funded us. We went out and proved the wood was sound, that there was technology out there to extract the timber safely, the rest is history." More >>
Source: ABC News
NZ export log prices jump to 7-month highNew Zealand export log prices jumped to a seven-month high in November as demand picked up in China, the country's largest market. The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs rose to NZ$92 a tonne from NZ$83 a tonne in October, marking the highest level since April, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers.
Log prices increased sharply this month as Chinese demand picked up to 70,000 cubic metres a day towards the end of October, and about 50,000-60,000 cubic metres a day in November. The pick-up in demand comes after log exporters reduced shipments to China following weak market conditions, and has caused inventory levels on Chinese ports to fall to between 2.3-to-2.6 million cubic metres from about 3 million cubic metres last month and 4.7 million cubic metres in August, AgriHQ said. Some now expected inventories to drop below 2 million cubic metres, AgriHQ said.
"The main cause of this sharp increase has been a reduction in supply and high off-take from Chinese ports. Due to the poor market conditions some exporters delayed harvesting over winter while others diverted supplies to other markets," said AgriHQ analyst Emma Dent. "The current lack of supply has resulted in a knee-jerk reaction from Chinese traders who are now seeking to source product to fill contracts."
Prices are expected to firm through December, although the market remains volatile, Dent said. "The market has the potential to overshoot in its price recovery, in which case prices will need to drop for the market to find the right balance," she said. "Improved market conditions mean supply to China is likely to increase which would place downward pressure on prices."
Lower shipping rates and a favourable New Zealand exchange rate were helping underpin the local export market, she said. Meanwhile, prices for New Zealand domestic logs were steady with pruned logs at NZ$167 a tonne from NZ$164 a tonne last month, and structural logs at NZ$103 a tonne from NZ$105 a tonne. Source: Scoop
Industry leaders recognised at VAFI industry dinnerThe Victorian Forest and Wood Products Industry celebrated the hard work of its members and the contribution they make to the Victorian community, its economy, and the sustainability of the state last Friday.
The Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) Awards were presented at the Industry’s annual dinner held at Crown Melbourne on Friday, 20 November, and saw several businesses recognised for their innovation and sustainability credentials, and community engagement.
VAFI CEO Tim Johnston said the 2015 VAFI Awards are recognition of the outstanding work being done by businesses in the Victorian forest and wood products industry. “The work that goes on each year by those in the industry is second to none. It is fitting to see this hard work be recognised appropriately,” he said.
The 2015 VAFI Award recipients were:
- Australian Bluegum Plantations, winner of the Sustainability Award (sponsored by PF Olsen)
- Britton Timbers, winner of the Community Award
Auswest Timbers, winner of the Economy Award (sponsored by First Super)
Industry leader, colleague, and friend, Robert Humphreys, was posthumously recognised for his decades’ long contribution to the industry, including as a past President of VAFI.
Photo: Bill Watson, CEO First Super, Jason Wilson, Auswest Timber, and Tim Johnston, CEO VAFI
Self-driving truck hits the highway in world firstDaimler Trucks has shifted gears in its ongoing effort to develop autonomous vehicles. By fitting its Highway Pilot self-driving system to a Mercedes-Benz Actros truck and steering it down a stretch of Autobahn 8 near Stuttgart, the company has marked the first time an autonomous production semi has been tested out on public roads.
Much like the posited advantages of self-driving cars, Daimler says improvements in driver safety are a compelling reason to pursue the technology in the road freight sector. By allowing autonomous systems to shoulder some of the burden on long-haul journeys, it says it can reduce driver fatigue and limit mistakes and distractions. Furthermore, when it comes to changing gears, accelerating and braking, the system is said to be more efficient, meaning less fuel and carbon emissions as a result.
Daimler's Highway Pilot system first debuted on the open road last year aboard the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 – a concept vehicle intended to demonstrate what a future of autonomous trucking might look like. Then earlier this year another of the company's concept vehicles, the Freightliner Inspiration, received official licensing to roam the public highways in the state of Nevada.
The latest autonomous expedition saw the Highway Pilot system installed and tested in something other than a concept vehicle for the first time. Onboard the modified Mercedes-Benz Actros was Daimler executive Dr Wolfgang Bernhard and Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of the state of Baden-Württemberg, who travelled along the Autobahn 8 between Denkendorf and Stuttgart with the Highway Pilot system helping guide the way.
The system uses a short-range radar that assess the vehicle's surroundings up to 230 ft (70 m) away in a forward-facing 130-degree arc, while a long-range unit scans out to 820 ft (250 m) in an 18-degree arc. These work in conjunction with Active Cruise Control and Active Brake Assist, along with a stereo camera that identifies road markings and guides steering.
While self-driving is the name of the game, Highway Pilot isn't about letting those behind the wheel plonk their feet on the dashboard and snooze their way to their destination. Daimler likens the system to the autopilot used in aviation, in that the driver must be prepared to take control at any time. The system can prompt the driver to do so if there is a change in weather or road conditions, and if they don't respond in time the truck is brought to a stop.
While widespread adoption of autonomous trucks still appears some way off, the opportunity to test out the technology in real-world scenarios will help speed up the process. "Safe testing in real traffic is absolutely decisive for the development of this technology to market maturity," says Bernhard. "We are now able to proceed with this."
Tokyo’s first multistorey building made of 100% woodAfter a decade of research aimed at reintroducing wood into Japanese urban architecture, the first multi-story building designed entirely with timber materials has finally met Tokyo's strict fire regulations. The 3-level Miyamura Veterinary Clinic, created under the lead of Toshihiko Suzuki from the Tokyo based offices Atelier OPA with Takao Nishizawa from Buildinglandscape, is a combination of a traditional post-and-beam wooden structure and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), a cutting-edge material which can resist fire for an entire hour. This exceeds Tokyo's regulations, which require a minimum resistance of 45 minutes.
Interestingly, the wooden layered LVL wall (developed in Japan by the Japan LVL association, now approved by the Japanese Ministry of Construction and processed by the Key Tec) is only 150 mm thick. While acting as a load bearing structure, LVL is also fireproof without requiring any extra surface coating. Therefore, Miyamura Veterinary Clinic is comprised of 100 percent wood that has none of the concrete partitions or structural metallic components, or other fire-resistant finishings, that until now were simply unavoidable in multi-level Japanese architecture.
Located in one of the central districts of Tokyo, the Animal Hospital provides a significant model that re-introduces traditional values in Japanese design. Indeed, the LVL not only ensures a good structural capacity and fire resistance, but the clinic also demonstrates how a tall building in capital’s core can actually have a genuine wooden structure and, with that, all the other advantages of timber.
Among LVL’s benefits are optimal thermal and acoustic performance and a high degree of cost efficiency. Left exposed, the LVL proves itself to be a great finishing material – both inside and outside. In this sense, the main southern façade as well as the eastern and western sides of the building feature 150 mm LVL structural panels (integrated with a breathable water-repellent sheet and covered by an extra 30 mm layer in LVL). Meanwhile, the interior walls, floors and ceilings, in addition to the custom made furniture, all comprised of LVL, provides a cozy atmosphere and evocative texture.
Forico awarded FSC certificationForico Pty Limited is proud to announce that it has been awarded Forest Stewardship Council Forest Management Certification covering almost 180,000 hectares of plantation and natural forests under Forico management control in Tasmania. The FSC Certificate is effective from 20 November 2015 for a 5 year period subject to successful annual surveillance audits. The certificate covers Forico’s plantation management and harvesting as well as the company’s management of 80,000 hectares of natural forest conservation reserves.
Forico CEO Bryan Hayes said, “This is a significant strategic achievement for our company, our staff and for stakeholders in our business. We particularly thank all the external stakeholders who contributed submissions directly to Forico and to our auditing and certifying body, Soil Association Woodmark.”
“This certification has required more than a year of hard work, including updated forest management planning and improved operational practices, and is testament to our people and the very high standards of forest management we aspire to achieve as we build our plantation based wood fibre business in Tasmania. We consider FSC FM Certification to be the pinnacle in external third party accreditation of forest management standards and it is increasingly required by our customers in overseas markets.”
Chair of the Forico Board and CEO of New Forests, Dr David Brand, commended Forico management and staff on the achievement and its importance to global investors. “Our investors include major superannuation and pension funds and they want assurance that their funds are invested responsibly. Independent third party certification of environmental and social performance is a key part of our investment approach,” he said.
New bio-based lightweight material unveiledThe research institutes Innventia and Swerea SICOMP have worked together to develop the first carbon-fibre composite ‘demonstrator’ from softwood lignin. The lightweight, fuel-efficient car of the future can be made using this material.
The investments of recent years in test beds and R&D infrastructures to realise the vision of new lightweight forest materials are now starting to pay dividends. The research institutes Innventia and Swerea SICOMP are both part of RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden, and are the first in the world to unveil a composite demonstrator based on 100 percent softwood lignin.
Carbon fibre composites are strong and light, with many applications. Today, demand is mainly limited by the high cost. As a result, they are currently used primarily in products where performance is more important than price. By introducing cost-effective lignin-based carbon fibre, the material could also be used in ‘normal’ cars and other bulk products. Lighter cars would mean lower fuel consumption, and would also make electric cars more viable.
The demonstrator – a sandwich structure in which balsa wood is laminated with carbon fibre – is the first proof that it is possible to manufacture lignin-based carbon fibre, even if this is still only on a laboratory scale. The production of another demonstrator is already under way to demonstrate a future application within the automotive industry, a model car powered by a lignin-based battery.
Energy management key to business successThe winner of this year’s Sustainable Business Network’s Energy Efficiency Management Award, sponsored by EECA Business, demonstrates how energy management is important for business success, says the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Decorative surfaces and panel producer, Laminex NZ, won the EECA Business sponsored Energy Award at a black tie ceremony in Auckland on Tuesday evening, while NZ Post received a judges’ commendation.
EECA Business General Manager, Greg Visser, says the award is only open to businesses able to demonstrate a sustained record of achievement in reducing energy consumption and costs.
“The strongest businesses take energy saving seriously,” Mr Visser says, “and EECA congratulates Laminex and NZ Post in their success. Both companies have made a real change to worksite sustainability performance and have taken responsibility to manage and reduce their energy use and their environmental footprint. This has been a key to the success of both companies.”
Mr Visser says EECA Business has worked extensively with Laminex (as part of the Fletcher Building Group), to support the company’s energy use management plan, and also with NZ Post in the past, with new plans to continue into the future.
Laminex has run a range of initiatives at its Taup? site including an upgrade of industrial motors, compressed air, lighting, the briquetting of sanderdust into biofuel, and the reduction of waste to landfill. The award judges said: “Laminex has made energy management and sustainability a business priority from the top down. Laminex reports energy and CO? emission performance to staff, driving staff engagement and yielding great projects.”
Australia could double bioenergy output in five yearsAustralia has the potential to double its bioenergy output over the next five years, developing a new energy source that will lower carbon emissions and provide an important energy from waste option for business and local government.
In a recent report, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has highlighted the opportunity for Australia to close the gap when it comes to generating electricity from bioenergy sources. While OECD countries source 2.4 per cent of their electricity output from bioenergy, this is just 0.9 per cent for Australia, according to the CEFC market report: The Australian bioenergy and energy from waste market.
“Our analysis has identified an important opportunity for Australia to source more of its electricity from bioenergy,” CEFC CEO Oliver Yates said. “We see the potential for up to 800MW of new generation from bioenergy, valued at up to $5 billion. This could potentially avoid more than 9 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, providing a small but vital element of Australia’s future energy mix.”
Mr Yates said that generating electricity and heat from bioenergy and waste resources is cost competitive with other new-built energy generation. However the technologies are not yet widely deployed in Australia. “The CEFC sees important bioenergy opportunities across the economy, including in urban waste, intensive livestock and food processing, and plantation forest residues,” Mr Yates said.
“We have already committed around $150 million in bioenergy and energy from waste projects, and this has catalysed a further $280 million in private sector investment. “Our investment pipeline includes $3.5 billion of bioenergy and energy from waste projects, including projects to produce wood pellets, convert sugar cane to ethanol and to convert municipal solid waste and animal waste to energy.”
Key findings from the CEFC report include:
- A potential investment opportunity of between $3.5 billion and $5 billion in the period to 2020 in energy from urban waste, agricultural waste and plantation forest residues.
- New bioenergy and enery from waste projects that could avoid 9 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, potentially contributing to 12 per cent of Australia’s national carbon abatement task to 2020.
- Bioenergy can provide baseload renewable electricity at high levels of availability, while reducing landfill waste and replacing waste disposal methods.
- While the sugar industry currently accounts for more than half Australia’s bioenergy output, with more than 400MW of installed capacity, the identified investment opportunity in energy from urban waste is between $2.2 billion and $3.3 billion.
You can access the report by clicking here
Buy and Sell
...and one to end the week on...vacuuming
So…this retired forestry guy sits around the house all day…wife says, “You could do something useful, like vacuum the house once a week.”
And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.
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