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Steam turbine driven turbojet

Posted by novice 
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 12, 2020 06:45AM
Hi Novice,
Note that I enjoy your research into the area of a steam turbine applied to an aircraft engine. So far we have looked at nuclear and super critical steam systems for turbo prop and turbo jet. I even suggest a combined cycle (picture re-attached).

Out of all these steam turbine studies and work, what is the main stopping point for the realization of such a concept? Note that I'm familiar with the Besler Steam Powered aircraft...this is a success story in my opinion.

Besler Steam Airplane

I have some thoughts and would like to see perhaps a summary of the results of these studies? I welcome other peoples' thoughts as to the stopping points of a steam turbine?

I will share one thought about scaling the steam model boat speed record to a full size engine. The thought is that you can scale the model boat steam system to a full size turbine with as much condensation as possible. Reclaiming as much heat energy as possible. I'm thinking that the size would be the same as the Besler steam airplane engine only in a turbine version.

Kind regards,
Rick


Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 12, 2020 10:57AM
One of your bigger challenges is going to be lubricating oil contamination by condensate. Every steam turbine system that I have worked with had centrifugal purifiers to remove the water from the oil -- we kept the main engines on the purifiers for 12 hours a day and the turbogenerators on the purifier for 8. The rest of the time was allocated for disassembling, cleaning and reassembling the purifier baskets -- there are self-cleaning purifiers which could alleviate this issue, though I would still want frequent visual inspection if I were depending upon the thing to keep me safe at 40,000 feet.

It should be remembered that I was working with naval propulsion units, meaning we literally had TONS of lube oil in the system and in the storage and settling tanks, this kept water dilution to a minimum. No aircraft designer is going to want to carry anything like the same amount of oil per horsepower. This means that the ratio of condensate to oil is going to be far worse in an aircraft and removal will be a higher priority.

I should mention that both Sharples and DeLaval purifiers have a nasty habit of emptying the oil tank if they lose their water seals -- this isn't that common but steam plant operators make period visual inspections to make sure. As it is, I remember a guy who dumped a bit over a thousand gallons of oil into the bilge and we had to rig a suction hose from the bilge, through the purifier and up to a settling tank. The purifier got the oil quite clean but, since it came out of the bilge, we let it settle out while being heated when we reached the next port (you don't want to settle at sea because ship's motion can stir the settling tank contents and disturb the settling process).

Beyond that, fuel consumption is always an issue, if you aren't nuclear propelled. As a Ship Superintendant, the vessels on which I oversaw repairs possessed General Electric LM-2500 gas turbine powerplants. These are essentially the same engine used on the DC-10 (30 years ago). The GE engine had a compression ratio of about 24:1, as I recollect, and therefore ran a thermal efficiency similar to that of a good diesel engine -- in the neighborhood of 40 percent. Outside of a few wildly overoptimistic, vastly over-promoted schemes, no one has ever come close to that with a reasonably simple Rankine cycle. That level of efficiency has been surpassed in binary cycles but the size and complexity goes up greatly-- stuff you'd rather avoid if you're trying to compete in the world of aircraft manufacture.

Beyond all this, you need a source of water. The Besler airplane was a stunt because the powerplant gobbled water rapidly. I am not positive whether he actually installed the condenser shown in his drawings but, if he did, it didn't do him a world of good. Besler himself was the first to admit that the system wasn't practical and that he had to stay over the airfield so as to land before running the boiler dry. In his Notebooks (not sure if they are still available from the SACA Storeroom), Abner calculated estimated engine efficiency and pronounced the Besler engine as "Wasteful". On the other hand, Abner built some really heavy powerplants and we have to ask ourselves if Besler wasn't making a rational tradeoff of efficiency for weight reduction. If we look at the horsepower developed by even relatively modest fan jets, we're going to be sucking water at prodigous rates. In fact, I'd guess you might want multistage centrifugal pumps to keep up with the demand in a reasonably compact package. Since steam is a relatively lousy thermal conductor, we're going to need larger condensers than we would see in an automotive radiator serving the same continuous horsepower. And that's an issue -- automobiles rarely approach their peak power output whereas aircraft cruise awfully close to that number. A 150 horspower automobile probably cruises at just 20 or 25 hp while a commercial jet runs (if memory serves) somewhere around 90 percent. So, an aircraft engine rated at a given power is going to need much more cooling effect than an auto engine rated at equivalent power.

Of course, a condenser capable of recycling all that water is going to be large, heavy and impose a truly horrendous amount of drag compared to a turbofan, turboprop (or even a piston engine).

So, the big issues I see are:

1. Maintaining pristine lubricating oil.
2. Developing more compact feed pumps
3. Developing unprecedentedly compact steam generators
3. Somehow condensing large amounts of steam without introducing large weight, volume or drag penalties.

We have to keep in mind that most aviation steam powerplants were designed in eras where aircraft powerplants weren't especially efficient and, compared to modern hardware, had relatively low output. For example, a B-47 jet bomber of 1951, with its crew of 3, had 6 engines totalling 43,200 pounds of thrust. A modern, single seat, F-35 fighter has just one engine rated at 43,000 pounds. Note that the bomber engine had a 12 stage compressor whereas the modern fanjet has a 3 stage fan and just a 6 stage compressor -- if wishing to submit a competitive design, we have reached the point where you have to beat whatever the competition is projected to have on the market ten years from now...it's a dog-eat-dog world.

Regards,

Ken
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 12, 2020 11:38AM
Ken the three power plants I worked on with steam turbines did not inject cylinder oil into the steam. They were all super critical steam plaints. 3600 and 4000 PSI’
The forth was nuclear, also no oil. I did one other plant with two 600 KW steam turbines at 4160, no oil in the steam.
The only reason for oil injection in the steam is if the auxiliary equipment is piston steam operated. I did renovate a hospital power plant replacing all the steam auxiliary equipment with electric motors. I did pick up some small turbines on that job. Can’t remember what I did with them.
Rolly


Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 12, 2020 12:54PM
Rolly,

I never said that they injected oil into the steam system. The steam in the turbine bearings would force its way into the bearings and then travel through the lubrication system as condensate.. These were either 600 psi nuclear systems or 1200 psi superheated units. I'm not sure you'd want to go above 1,200 psi superheat in an aviation application -- it was challenging enough onboard ship.

Regards,

Ken



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2020 05:09PM by frustrated.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 12, 2020 05:21PM
It is feasible to build a small aircraft steam powerplant using modern materials. Piston steam engine is easier to build, but it can't work at very high temperatures. Steam turbine can work at much higher temperatures up to 1500F.
It is better to place the air cooling fan, steam turbine, steam vapor generator and steam condensing radiator together into single casing. In that case about 75-80% of steam turbine power will power the propeller gearbox and the rest will power steam condenser fan, feed pump, condensate pump, vapor generator air blower and auxiliaries.
The main difficulty of such system is the choice between high efficiency (low temperature steam condensation, large radiator) and lower efficiency ( high temperature steam condensation, smaller radiator). Thermal efficiency will be around 15-20%.

Pratt and Whitney company was designing a very large steam turbine jet powerplant but did not build and test it. The drawing shows its huge size in comparison with 6ft man.


Besler was trying to build 4 steam engines STOL aircraft in early 1950s. Engine testing was not very impressive - efficiency was less than 10% - only half of theoretical. That 200 hp steam engine would require radiator approximately ten times larger than equivalent IC engine with 30% efficiency.

[www.flyingkettle.com]


The main reason to build the steam aircraft can be a world record challenge. That was the case of the British steam car speed record:

[www.steamcar.net]

Lightweight 325 hp steam turbine could power an aircraft. The air fan cooled steam condenser will required to conserve the water and decrease the weight of powerplant.
Without condenser this car water loss is 8.8 gallons per min, or about 2.5 tons per hour which is unacceptable for the aircraft.

[youtu.be]



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2020 09:10PM by novice.


Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 15, 2020 08:58AM
Thanks for all the input. I think that there is some monumental tasks to a successful steam turbine aircraft engine. It would be a world class achievement with significant recognition. Also up for grabs are an Indy Formula S and one can always improve on the Land Speed Record. All are related with steam and I believe the condensation of the steam to minimize loss is the most challenging. My belief is that these monuments are doable. In this thread, both the British and our dear old friend Jim Crank were experienced in steam turbine land speed records. This data is valuable to an aircraft steam power plant.

So I played around with some thoughts on sketch paper to see what would be important on a Steam Aircraft Engine. Also, I modified one of the patent drawings that Novice attached to see how that inventor was thinking. Here is what I summarize with all the references examined:

Steam Aircraft Engine Design Inputs (in priority)
1) Steam turbine driving either Fan or Prop in a condensing system
2) Use a relatively similar aircraft engine envelope to size and shape w/maximizing condenser area
3) Optimize the use of wing structure and body as additional condensing surfaces
4) use a wing located boiler in lieu of a engine compartment boiler in effort to maximize condenser coils/passageways
5) use Heat energy off condenser and hot gas exhaust as thrust (not primary)

It's a shame that the Lear Vapordyne never had debutante due to oil lubrication issues. It would have been nice to see some data from this running around a track. Even to understand how often it would need to stop and replenish would have been nice info. We all talk about the mistake made in the condenser design...perhaps it is a decimal place off.

I took the liberty to interpret the Jack Waidelich Turbo Fan concept and apply some interpretation to the sketch. I think that the engine would be a self contained condensing system with boiler within the system. It has a Fan, Stator and compressor fan run off the steam turbine (fan & compressor on one shaft). The compressor fan would be used for feeding the combustor and the boiler in the tail-cone. If you would like an expanded version, let me know and I can send it to your email.

In doing some thought engineering while sketching, I thought about using a PT6 Turbo Prop as an envelope to put a steam turbine into. I often consider a twin turbo prop aircraft in my thoughts and dreams. The ST6 concept if I may would have the boiler and burner in the wing on the inboard side of the engine and use the outside wing surface as additional condenser. A turbo prop would need to use a planet gear reduction.

How much thrust would you get off the condenser and from the burner's exhaust gas. In this operation, not much. However, it would add to the thrust and more so at increased air speeds. I believe that the P51 radiator was designed to add thrust from the engine waste heat. By the way, I think the P51 air-frame design is pretty cool.

Some food for thought. Perhaps we'll try a version in the future.


Attachments:
open | download - North American P-51 Mustang _ Specs, Comparisons, Images.html (103.9 KB)
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 15, 2020 12:18PM
Hi Rick,

I met the owner of the Lear car at Tom Kimmel's. One of the biggest problems with the Lear Indy car was that the designer conned Lear into getting the job, he had no real expertise in the field. To give you an idea how bad it was, it was only AFTER they built the car that someone realized that they had dramatically underestimated the condenser requirements. As it was, there was no way to fit a functioning condenser on the car without inducing excessive aerodynamic drag. This would be tantamount to realizing that you needed to double the boiler size and finding no place to put it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/15/2020 12:19PM by frustrated.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 15, 2020 02:41PM
Condenser performance is critical for the steam aircraft feasibility. Steam condensation temperature has to be as high as possible, up to 450F ( car radiator - 220 F). At the same time steam cycle efficiency is higher at lowest possible temperature.
The best time to operate steam aircraft is cold winter. At high summer temperature steam condensation will be incomplete or the condenser size and weight must be much bigger.
It is safer to test the steam aircraft powerplant on airboat. Also weight won't be a very critical parameter. The other possible application is a steam powered hovercraft/air cushion vehicle.

Steam powerplant can also be a bottoming cycle for the turboprop/turboshaft engine. In these engines 75-80% of fuel energy is lost with very hot exhaust gases. They can be used to generate steam for the steam turbine. 1000 hp turboprop has the 3000 hp gas turbine that rotates the air compressor that absorbs 2000 hp. Net output power is 1000 hp. Steam turbine can drive the compressor and most of gas turbine power can be used to drive the propeller.
It will be quite easy to set a new world speed record for a steam aircraft. Besler's steam airplane was flying at speed below 120 mph.


Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 15, 2020 04:20PM
Heavy duty steam powerplant underground coal mine haulage vehicle with the closed cycle and forced air cooling steam condensation. Because this vehicle was designed to operate at almost maximum power with complete steam condensation its parameters can be a good starting point for the steam aircraft powerplant calculation.

[www.osti.gov]

" Demonstration of a steam-powered face haulage vehicle. Final technical report, 31 December 1978

Abstract
This program tested and evaluated the exhaust emissions, productivity and economics of a steam engine driven coal shuttlecar. Ninety percent of United States underground coal is presently hauled with shuttlecars, typically electric cable or battery driven. Diesel shuttlecars are not widely accepted in United States coal mines because of exhaust emissions concerns despite their productivity, accident, and economic advantages over electric shuttlecars. The steam engine is attractive due to its low exhaust emissions. The steam engine tested was a modification of an automotive steam engine sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Modifications proven with a 75 hp engine include limited surface and air temperatures, exlosion proofing, flame arresting and a 22-in. high engine for the shuttlecar. Development delays, primarily in transducer reliability precluded vehicle testing within the period of performance. Sufficient testing was completed for a proof-of-principle demonstration. A new shuttlecar was completed and successfully tested with a diesel engine. The new shuttlecar concepts have been incorporated in production diesel shuttlecars. The study concludes that a steam engine driven shuttlecar is competitive with the diesel except that the first cost is higher. The steam shuttlecar appears to be superior in all respects to electric shuttlecars. Continued development of the steam engine shuttlecar is recommended if the ultimate acceptability of the diesel is in doubt."


Nominal power of this powerplant is 75 hp and weight is 1500 lb.
For the aicraft application weight has to be less than 500 lbs and net power at least 200 hp.
High rpm high temperature and pressure steam turbine, turbocharged steam generator and all aluminum 3D printed air condenser can make this goal doable.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 16, 2020 12:46PM
We are on the same page...condenser performance is paramount. Let us add to this or enhance it.

η = Wout / Qin

Wout = Qfeed pump + Qshaft

η = (Qfp + Qs) / Qin

Qin = Qburner + Qfeedwater heater

η = 1 - [(Qfp + Qs) / (Qb + Qfh)]

So often I see patents and peoples steam engine designs ignore one of the most influential components to steam engine design. I attached some examples where the person considered this very influential component.

Here is my quandary, is it better to use the waste Q from the condenser as thrust? Or better to use the waste Q as feed water heater? I say go for the feed water heating and the rest for thrust. Granted the thrust isn't very much and similar to the P51 Mustang example above.

The example of the undermining steam vehicle is a good example. Realistically it appears to present three (3) what I would consider average sized radiators to condense the steam of a 75 Hp engine. Not sure what the rpm is and again, it appears to be sized relative to the radiators. To me, this design is sound and would be accurate by calculation(s).

Aircraft and Ships poses a similar advantage. A ship has water to help condense. An aircraft has low pressure (vacuum) and low temperature at altitude. The take-off would be the challenge and might need some extra boost to get off-the-ground.

As you may have gathered, I'm talking about feed water heating from the steam expander's exhaust. The Case Tractor is an excellent version and was very successful. The long cylindrical tube running parralle to the boiler is the feed water heater. This actually gave this traction engine the same output/fuel of a engine 1 or 2 Hp bigger without FW heating. In other words, the boiler can be smaller and achieve the same output...a great concept for an aircraft engine.


Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 18, 2020 05:20PM
Besler's 4 engine steam aircraft design can be built using modern technology.















200 hp steam powerplant had a maximum weight 432 lbs with the water reserve. Cooling fan could help to decrease water loss during ground run and takeoff. Replacing piston steam engine with the compact high rpm lightweight steam turbine with the gearbox could increase power and efficiency by boosting steam pressure and temperature to 1500-2000 psi and 1000-1200F.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/2020 06:11PM by novice.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 18, 2020 09:24PM
Just out of curiosity, what type of turbine layout are you looking at?
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 19, 2020 06:43AM
Steam turbines that can work in aircraft:

[asmedigitalcollection.asme.org]. Scaled up version of the 10 kW steam turbocharger.

[www.steamcar.co.uk] 325 hp steam turbine of the record steam car can be modified for higher pressure and temperature.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 19, 2020 08:39AM
I'm sorry, Novice, but that didn't actually answer my question. Do you have any ideas as to number of stages, types of staging, configuration of rotors and so on? If anything, the number of turbomachinery iterations can challenge the number of reciprocating designs. The British LSR car may not be a preferred example since they took months in the Desert and something like a million dollars to do what Chuk almost did on a budget of $50,000 -- on his first try -- with a far smaller and lighter vehicle. Generally speaking, the wisdom in the industry is that turbines are not as efficient below about 500 HP due to scale effects in places like rotor clearance.

Regards,

ken
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 19, 2020 12:09PM
Hi Ken,
I can fill in the blanks.

The first ASME presentation is a 2-sided, Pelton Wheel. It has 2-DeLaval nozzles impinging on the wheel at 90 degree apart.

The British LSR is 2-axial turbines with a stator in between. The turbine wheels were 8" in diameter. Don't know what is the impinging method. My guess is that it is a centrifugal flow in, through a nozzle, turbine 1, nozzle and turbine 2.

Note that Doble's Dad was big into Pelton Wheels. That's where the money started for the boys.

Hope this helps,
Rick
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 19, 2020 01:37PM
Rick
I seam to remember it being a sixteen inch wheel double turbine rows with a single stator in between. Like the one I had.
They built a new housing and bearing assembly from aluminum.
I remember coping photos but can’t seam to find them.
I forgot how many nozzles they used. Mine had five with plugs in the casing for more.
Rolly

found some photos

The car’s turbine layout was redesigned and is now successfully generating in excess of 350 bhp

The four modified steam nozzles. Mounted on the removable holder to make minor adjustments easy.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/2020 03:53PM by Rolly.


Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 19, 2020 02:50PM
Full scale steam powered aircraft project probably will cost much more than $100k. It is probably cheaper to build a small RC aircraft steam powerplant.
Besler steam engine was able to run at maximum steam temperature 720F instead of 1000F due to difficulties with high pressure cylinders lubrication. Steam turbine is only limited by stainless steel maximum working temperature.

In order to have a high steam condensation temperature, steam turbine has to work with backpressure significantly higher than 20 psi.

British steam car had a specific purpose and fundraising sources:

[www.steamcar.net]

"....In return we would be able to provide a sponsor with numerous branding opportunities such as “Tour sponsored by”

Company branding/logos printed on all advertising display material and backdrops supporting the vehicle

Presence on all show/trade stands the vehicle attends

Livery on the vehicle transporter.

Plus PR exposure on all media releases supporting the vehicles appearances and your company mission statement

Logo on team clothing

After the tour has been completed, the vehicle will reside as a permanent exhibit at Beaulieu Motor Museum with branding...."
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 19, 2020 07:17PM
A Pelton wheel certainly doesn't sound like the most efficient turbine layout imaginable, a pure impulse turbine seems like it would have fewer losses -- I've seen one of the rotors built by Lear that Jim Crank used, it was immediately recognizable as a classic impulse rotor. I have some serious concerns about trying to power vehicles with single-stage turbines, it will undoubtedly work but the efficiency isn't likely to be very competitive. I'd probably rather have a piston expander in a light aircraft.

Regards,

Ken
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 19, 2020 09:17PM
British record steam turbine car had water loss 10.5 gallons per minute at 325 hp. That is roughly 10 times the fuel flow which was also not great due to poor thermal efficiency of just 8% (242kW of mechanical power out of 3000 kw fuel energy per hour). Condenser will have to transfer to the ambient air over 2200 kW of waste hear with small temperature rise.
At higher flying altitude air is much colder ( at 30000 ft it's -48F) so cooling is a little bit easier.

Besler's 200 hp steam powerplant was designed with two aluminum 3.9 sq ft steam condensers that were partially installed inside the wings. Aircraft had 4 engines and 8 condensers with total square footage 31.2 sq. ft. and weight - 228 lbs.
Saturated steam exhaust pressure was 20 psi and temperature 226F. Ambient temperature was set at 90F.
Because there were no cooling fans the steam had to be vented during taxiing and takeoff.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/2020 11:19PM by novice.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 20, 2020 06:46AM
Rolly,

Any information on Jim Crank turbine and the associated LSR attempt? Didn't that come from Doble or Besler?

Thanks,
Rick
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 20, 2020 07:20AM
The turbine came from the Lear bus program. Tom Kimmel has one of the turbine rotors, not the whole unit, unfortunately.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 20, 2020 08:46AM
Besler underestimated steam condenser for his 200 hp motor.
SES steam condenser was designed for 150 hp motor at exhaust temperature 258F and has a weight 190 lbs (core-93lbs, fans and structure-86 lbs, water-11 lbs). For 800 hp condensers weight will be 760 lbs or possibly 500 lbs with modern materials. Each condenser had two fans 3 hp each.
Also condenser's dimensitions were bigger.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 20, 2020 05:28PM
I found the photos of the 16 inch Carling turbine I had you can see it’s size compared with the five gal bucket.

Rolly


Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 21, 2020 10:33AM
The Steam automobile Vol 24, #3, 1982 has an article on pp.22-23 regarding the 236 hp , 75850 rpm open cycle steam turbine for the record 1985 steam automobile. Turbine has diameter 5.4 inches and 81 blades. Steam pressure and temperature are 900 psi/900F. Fuel flow is 0.83 gal/min and 3.76 million Btu/hr.
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 21, 2020 07:56PM
For the last few years of his life, I corresponded with Jim Crank on an average of at least once a day. As it turns out, it was never his plan to use a turbine in an LSR car. He had an unexpected opportunity to buy a bunch of hardware from the Lear bus project for an essentially negligible price -- something like a hundred bucks, but don't take that exact price as gospel. This was quite a bargain given the more than million dollar development costs and indicates Bill Lear's disillusionment with the whole project.

As it turned out, Jim rather regretted using the turbine. He had a number of problems with broken transmissions due to the high necessary step down ratios. The poor engine economy necessitated a much larger boiler and burner than originally contemplated. Likewise, the narrow torque band made the car very slow to accelerate.

Jim's original plan was to convert a 3-53 Detroit Diesel into a uniflow steam engine, this idea undoubtedly being based off the Brobeck steam bus engine since he had first-hand experience with that program.

It's interesting that the current, Canadian-based LSR project is very similar with the idea of converting the 3-53 to an even more powerful and efficient semi-uniflow design.

Regards,

Ken
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 22, 2020 03:34PM
Ken
is there a viable LPR project under way, I nave not heard of it.
Rolly
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 22, 2020 03:41PM
Rolly,

There's a group of SACA members, largely out of Canada, who have started an LSR project. I haven't heard of any recent progress. CAD drawings for the cylinder head components have been drawn up, as have a lot of calculations and specifications for the overall powerplant and vehicle. Basically, it's a converted 3-53 Jimmy and a forced recirculation (Lamont) boiler.

Regards,

Ken
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 22, 2020 04:10PM
Thanks Ken
Sounds interesting.
Rolly
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 23, 2020 05:42AM
Hey Guys,
I'm actually going to take a stab at making the LSR boiler. Prior to covid I had several emails back and forth with Tim (ME PHD in Canada). I was bouncing some concepts off of him along with a new tube, steam generator calculator in excel. The target heat required is 5m BTU/hr. This posses a serious challenge to make these boiler(s) and fit it into an LSR car.

Kind regards,
Rick
Re: Steam turbine driven turbojet
November 28, 2020 07:14AM
Hi, Rick,

Is it possible to post that steam generator calculator here?

Serge
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