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Akhil Rao and Jennifer S. Curtis

Dept. of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Bruno C. Hancock

Pzer Global Research and Development, Groton, CT 06340

Carl Wassgren

School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

DOI 10.1002/aic.12161

Published online January 20, 2010 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com).

Experiments show that the minimum uidization velocity of particles increases as

the diameter of the uidization column is reduced, or if the height of the bed is

increased. These trends are shown to be due to the inuence of the wall. A new, semi-

correlated model is proposed, which incorporates Janssens wall effects in the calcula-

tion of the minimum uidization velocity. The wall friction opposes not only the bed

weight but also the drag force acting on the particles during uidization. The

enhanced wall friction leads to an increase in the minimum uidization velocity. The

model predictions compare favorably to existing correlations and experimental data.

V VC

2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 56: 23042311, 2010

Keywords: minimum uidization velocity, uidized bed, column diameter, bed height,

uidization

Introduction

As uidized bed operations have become more popular in

industry, there has been a drive to study these beds in

greater detail at laboratory scales. Reducing the size of uid-

ized beds is gaining interest because of the better gas distri-

bution and operability at smaller scales. Micro uidized beds

(MFBs), which were rst proposed by Potic et al.,

1

have

good mixing and heat transfer capabilities, making them a

useful tool for studying various processes like drying, mix-

ing, or segregation,

26

as well as reaction kinetics.

7

For

example, MFBs are used to investigate uidization segrega-

tion in the pharmaceutical industry where active ingredients

are expensive and difcult to obtain during the early stages

of development.

One parameter of particular interest when working with

uidized beds is the minimum uidization velocity. Many

correlations exist for calculating the minimum uidization

velocity.

821

The Wen and Yu

22

correlation is the most com-

monly used correlation for calculating the minimum uidiza-

tion velocity and is given as,

24:5

Re

#

_ _

2

1650

Re

#

_ _

Ar

#

3

_ _

0 (1)

where

Re

q

g

#dU

mf

l

and (2)

Ar

#d

3

q

s

q

g

q

g

g

l

2

(3)

where Re is Reynolds number, Ar is the Archimedes number, W

is the sphericity, q

g

is gas density, d is particle diameter, U

mf

is

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to A. Rao at

akhil-rao@hotmail.com.

V VC

2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers

2304 AIChE Journal September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9

the minimum fluidization velocity, l is gas dynamic viscosity,

q

s

is solid density, and g is the gravitational acceleration. None

of the correlations include the effect of the bed height or

diameter of the column, factors which are likely to be of

interest when MFBs are considered.

Two recent investigations, however, have examined the

inuence of column diameter and bed height. Di Felice and

Gibilaro

23

described a method for predicting the pressure

drop across a particle bed, taking into account the effect of

column diameter. They considered the column to be com-

prised of two sections: an inner core, where the voidage

remains nearly constant, and an outer annular section, where

the voidage varies because of the presence of the wall. As

there is a difference in the voidage over the cross section of

the column, the velocity also varies across the columns

cross section. This fact was used to develop a modied

Erguns equation, but this effect is only observed at very

small column diameter (D) to particle diameter (d) ratios,

i.e. D/d \15.

Delebarre

24

assumed that the uidizing gas density is a

function of the instantanious bed height, which in turn inu-

ences the minimum uidizing velocity. This effect only

occurs if the column is very tall. For MFBs, where the col-

umns are short, this effect does not play much of a role.

As will be shown in the following section, experiments in

which the bed height and column diameter are varied show

that both parameters inuence the beds minimum uidiza-

tion velocity. Neither Di Felice and Gibilaros

23

or Dele-

barres

24

models are able to capture the experimental results.

The remainder of this article describes the theory and experi-

ments in which a new mechanism is proposed for accounting

for bed height and column wall effects.

Experimental Setup

Two uidization segregation units (Jenike and Johanson,

Fluidization Material SparingSegregation Tester and Fluid-

ization Segregation Tester), were used in the experiments.

The rst tester has a column diameter of 1.6 cm and a height

of 9.5 cm, and the latter tester has a 2.4 cm diameter column

and an 18.5 cm height. Details concerning the operation of

the testers are given in Hedden et al.

25

and ASTM D-6941.

26

A schematic of the experimental set up is shown in Figure

1. The experiments were carried out in both columns. A sin-

tered metal plate with an average pore diameter of 40 lm

was used as a gas distributor for both the columns. The air

enters the column from the bottom, and its ow rate is con-

trolled by a mass ow controller. The pressure drop across

the entire setup was measured with a pressure transducer.

The instantaneous pressure drop and velocity data were

recorded on a computer.

Experiments were performed with glass and polystyrene

particles of different sizes, ranging from 100 to 550 lm.

These particles are in the Geldart B class. The particles were

carefully sieved, then dried in an oven for 12 h, and nally

subject to an antistatic bar (Takk industries) to eliminate

accumulated electrostatic charge. The particles were stored

in a desiccator so that cohesive forces due to moisture were

minimized. To further reduce electrostatic charges that de-

velop during uidization, a very small amount ($5 mg) of

antistatic powder (LarostatVR

HTS 905 S, manufactured by

BASF Corporation) was mixed with the particles, preceding

the experiments. Table 1 summarizes the experimental mate-

rials and their properties. The notation used to represent the

particle type is: G for glass and P for polystyrene, followed

by the average particle size in microns. The values for the

dynamic friction coefcients of glass and polystyrene on

acrylic (the column wall material) are not readily available

and so values of friction coefcients, for glass on glass and

polystyrene on polystyrene, obtained from Persson and

Tosatti

27

were used in the model calculations.

Before running an experiment, air was passed through the

empty column to get a background pressure drop due to the

column, diffuser, and the lter sections. Next, the particulate

material was weighed and loaded into the column from the

top. The height, H, to which the column was lled was

Figure 1. Schematic of the experimental set up.

Table 1. Experimental Materials and Properties

Material Diameter (lm) Density (kg/m

3

) Sphericity Coefcient of Friction Notation

Glass 105125 2500 0.9 0.4 G116

Glass 210250 2500 0.9 0.4 G231

Glass 250300 2500 0.9 0.4 G275

Glass 350420 2500 0.9 0.4 G385

Glass 420500 2500 0.9 0.4 G462

Glass 500600 2500 0.9 0.4 G550

Polystyrene 250300 1250 0.9 0.5 P275

Polystyrene 300354 1250 0.9 0.5 P328

AIChE Journal September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/aic 2305

recorded. The antistatic powder was mixed with the par-

ticles. The air velocity was slowly increased beyond the

point of uidization and then decreased to zero to get the

entire pressure drop prole. The point of intersection of the

pressure drop line for the xed bed and the horizontal line

for the fully uidized bed is typically dened as the mini-

mum uidization velocity. However, just before uidization,

the pressure drop across the bed overshoots the expected

value and then decreases to a constant value. Such behavior

is expected in columns with a small diameter. This over-

shoot was not observed during deuidization (Figure 2).

Thus, the deuidization pressure drop curve was used to

determine the point of uidization.

7,28

A minimal of three

cycles of uidization and deuidization were carried out to

determine an average minimum uidization velocity. Each

experiment was repeated twice and the procedure was

repeated for all particle types. The maximum uctuation

observed in the value of U

mf

was $7% (for G550 in D

1.6 cm and H 4.5 cm; U

mf

24.5 0.9 cm/s). The fairly

consistent value of U

mf

observed over the three cycles and

two repetitions show that the trends in U

mf

are not due to

poor gas distribution but rather due to the wall effects. Addi-

tionally, gas channeling and maldistribution were not

observed through the transparent columns during any of the

experiments.

Figures 36 present the experimental data for the mini-

mum uidization velocity (U

mf

) for the glass and polystyrene

particles, obtained from both the columns. In these gures,

the Reynolds number at U

mf

is plotted against the aspect ra-

tio of the bed (H/D). In addition to the experimental data,

the plots also include theoretical curves that will be

described in the following section. The error bars represent

the difference in the reading between two repetitions and not

amongst different cycles.

The experimental data (Figures 36) show that minimum

uidization velocity monotonically increases as the height of

the bed is increased. Further, wall effects on the minimum

uidization velocity are prominent when column diameter, D

1.6 cm (Figures 3 and 5). While, wall effects on minimum

uidization velocity are much less pronounced for column

diameter, D 2.4 cm (Figures 4 and 6). Although the model

proposed by Di Felice and Gibilaro

23

predicts this trend,

their model is limited to column to particle diameter ratios

of less than 15. In the experiments performed here, this ratio

Figure 2. Example of a pressure drop prole (uidiza-

tion and deuidization) using G231 particles

in the 1.6 cm diameter column.

The minimum uidization velocity is also shown in the

gure.

Figure 3. Reynolds number, Re, based on the minimum

uidization velocity as a function of aspect

ratio, H/D, for different glass particles in the

1.6 cm diameter column.

Figure 4. Reynolds number, Re, based on the minimum

uidization velocity as a function of aspect

ratio, H/D, for different glass particles in the

2.4 cm diameter column.

2306 DOI 10.1002/aic Published on behalf of the AIChE September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9 AIChE Journal

can be as large as 150, well outside the range of validity in

Di Felice and Gibilaros model.

As the height of the bed increases, the minimum uidization

velocity also increases. Delebarres

24

model accounting for

changes in the uidizing gas density over the bed height predicts

at most a minimum uidization velocity increase of $0.5%,

whereas the observed minimum uidization velocity increase is

greater than 20% in certain cases for the experiments examined

here. Thus, this model does not predict the measured data.

Theory

As existing correlations do not include the inuence of

column diameter or bed height, and because the recent mod-

els by Di Felice and Gibilaro

23

and Delebarre

24

do not pre-

dict the measured data, a new model is developed in this

section to account for the observed trends. As will be pre-

sented, a key component of the model is the stress between

the column wall and the bed.

The pressure drop, DP, for a xed bed of height, H, is

given by the semiempirical correlation of Ergun

16

as:

DP

H

bU aU

2

(4)

where

a 1:75

1 2

2

3

q

g

#d

_ _

and (5)

b 150

1 2

2

2

3

l

#

2

d

2

_ _

: (6)

The parameter U is the supercial uid velocity and [ is

the bed voidage. The bed void fraction and uid density are

assumed to remain constant throughout the bed.

The pressure drop expression (Eq. 4) can be used to pre-

dict the minimum uidization velocity of a mono-sized ma-

terial by balancing the pressure force acting on the bed by

the effective bed weight.

1:75

1 2

2

3

_ _

Re

2

150

1 2

2

2

3

_ _

Re 1 2Ar (7)

Note that in the previous analysis, the stress between the

wall and the bed has not been included.

In the case of a xed bed with no interstitial uid, a frac-

tion of the bed weight is supported by the walls of the col-

umn. This phenomenon is known as Janssens wall effect.

To determine the wall force acting on the bed, consider a

thin horizontal slice of the particle bed of thickness dz (Fig-

ure 7). The vertical stress, r

v

, acting on the top face and the

weight of the element are balanced by the vertical stress act-

ing on the bottom face and the frictional forces applied by

the wall. The resulting differential equation is,

dr

v

dz

c

1

r

v

c

2

(8)

where

c

1

4tanuk

D

and (9)

c

2

1 2q

s

g: (10)

The parameter u is the friction angle between the wall

and particles, and D is the column diameter. A horizontal

frictional stress, r

H

, arises from the vertical stress, r

v

, pro-

ducing a wall friction force of r

H

tanu.

29

It is assumed here

Figure 5. Reynolds number, Re, based on the minimum

uidization velocity as a function of aspect

ratio, H/D, for different polystyrene particles

in the 1.6 cm diameter column.

Figure 6. Reynolds number, Re, based on the minimum

uidization velocity as a function of aspect

ratio, H/D, for different polystyrene particles

in the 2.4 cm column.

AIChE Journal September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/aic 2307

that this horizontal stress is directly proportional to the verti-

cal stress with k as the proportionality constant

29

:

r

H

kr

v

: (11)

Solving Eq. 8 subject to the boundary condition that the

stress at the top of the bed is zero gives,

r

v

c

2

c

1

1 e

c

1

z

: (12)

The stress increases nearly linearly near the free surface,

but asymptotes to a constant value deeper into the bed.

These wall induced stresses will affect the minimum uid-

ization velocity in narrow columns.

Now consider the situation when uid is owing through

a xed bed of solids with the same coordinate system as

shown in Figure 7. At equilibrium, the force due to stress on

the top face of the element, F

T

, and the weight of the ele-

ment, F

W

, will be balanced by the force due to the stress on

the bottom face, F

B

, the wall friction, F

F

(Janssens effect),

the drag force on the solids, F

D

, and the buoyancy force,

F

Bu

. Thus, a force balance on the solids yields:

F

B

F

F

F

D

F

Bu

F

T

F

W

(13)

which, when expanded is

p

4

D

2

r

v

dr

v

tanur

H

pDdz

p

4

D

2

dp

p

4

D

2

r

v

1 2q

s

q

g

g

p

4

D

2

dz: (14)

In the above expression, F

w

and F

Bu

have been com-

bined to give the last term on the right hand side of Eq.

14. Simplifying and rearranging the previous equation

gives,

dr

v

dz

4tanur

H

D

1 2q

s

q

g

g

dp

dz

_ _

: (15)

If r

H

kr

v

is assumed, as in Eq. 11,

dr

v

dz

4tanukr

v

D

1 2q

s

q

g

g

dp

dz

_ _

(16)

which may be written as

dr

v

dz

c

1

r

v

c

2

(17)

where

c

1

4tanuk

D

and (18)

c

2

1 2q

s

q

g

g

dp

dz

_ _

: (19)

In Eq. 19 there are two additional terms as compared with

Eq. 10: the drag term, represented by dp/dz, and the buoy-

ancy term.

The solution to Eq. 17 is equivalent to that of Eq. 8

r

v

c

2

c

1

1 e

c

1

z

(20)

but with different c

1

and c

2

.

Figure 8 presents Eq. 20 in graphical form. When the ve-

locity is zero (i.e., there is no gas owing through the col-

umn), then Eq. 20 simplies to Janssens equation. As the

velocity increases, the vertical contact stresses in the bed are

smaller because the drag on the particles supports a fraction

of the beds weight. At and above the point of uidization,

the stresses in the column are zero (as contact does not exist

Figure 7. Sketch showing the uidized bed coordinate

system.

Figure 8. A schematic showing how the vertical stress

in the bed varies with bed depth at different

uid velocity U

1

, U

2

, and U

3

.

2308 DOI 10.1002/aic Published on behalf of the AIChE September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9 AIChE Journal

amongst the particles), and thus dr

v

/dz is also zero. This sit-

uation is only possible if c

2

0,

c

2

1 2q

s

q

g

g

dp

dz

_ _

0 (21)

In Eq. 21, if Erguns pressure drop expression is substi-

tuted (Eq. 4), the resultant expression will be the same as

Eq. 7, and the wall effects will not be included in the analy-

sis.

It is now assumed that the horizontal stress is not only a

function of the downward vertical stress but also a function

the upward drag forces caused by the gas owing through

the column. As Erguns pressure drop equation is used to

calculate the pressure drop, it is assumed that the structure

of these new terms on which the horizontal stress depends is

similar in form to those given by Erguns equation, but the

velocity terms are being scaled differently. These scales are

chosen as they give a favorable t to the experimental data.

r

H

kr

v

k

1

H

l

D#d

_ _

U k

2

H

q

g

D

_ _

U

2

(22)

where k

1

and k

2

are constants.

Substituting Eq. 22 back into Eq. 15, yields:

dr

v

dz

4tanukr

v

D

4tanuk

2

q

g

H

D

D

_ _

U

2

4tanuk

1

l

#d

_ _

H

D

D

_ _

U 1 2q

s

q

g

g

_

dp

dz

: (23)

Comparing Eq. 23 to Eq. 16, there are two additional

terms, proportional to U

2

and U, appearing on the right hand

side of Eq. 23. These terms have come about due to the hor-

izontal stress from the wall and the ow of the uid through

the bed.

Substituting Erguns equation for pressure drop (Eq. 4)

into Eq. 23:

dr

v

dz

4tanukr

v

D

4tanuk

2

q

g

H

D

D

a

_ _

U

2

4tanuk

2

l

#d

_ _

H

D

D

b

_ _

U 1 2q

s

q

g

g

_

: (24)

This equation is again of the form:

dr

v

dz

c

1

r

v

c

2

(25)

where:

c

1

4tanuk

D

and (26)

c

2

a

4tanuk

2

q

g

H

D

D

_ _

U

2

b

4tanuk

2

l

#d

_ _

H

D

D

_ _

U

1 2q

s

q

g

g

_

: (27)

Setting c

2

0, the condition which is necessary for uid-

ization, and integrating over the length of the column:

a

4tanuk

0

2

q

g

H

D

D

_ _

U

2

b

4tanuk

0

1

l

#d

_ _

H

D

D

_ _

U

1 2q

s

q

g

g

_

0 (28)

where k

0

1

and k

0

2

are lumped parameters which also include

integration coefficients. Substituting for a and b, which are

Erguns constants, yields;

1:75

1 2

2

3

4tanuk

0

2

#d

D

_ _

H

D

_ _ _ _

q

g

U

2

#d

_

150

1 2

2

2

3

4tanuk

0

1

#d

D

_ _

H

D

_ _

_

lU

#d

2

1 2q

s

q

g

g

_

(29)

Multiplying throughout by the factor

q

g

#d

3

l

2

to make the

equation dimensionless gives:

1:75

1 2

2

3

4tanuk

0

2

#d

D

_ _

H

D

_ _

Re

2

_

150

1 2

2

2

3

4tanuk

0

1

#d

D

_ _

H

D

_ _

_

Re 1 2Ar (30)

Equation 30 is a quadratic equation that can be easily

solved for Re, with k

0

1

and k

0

2

remaining constant. Rewriting

Eq. 30 results in

a

00

2; u;

#d

D

_ _

;

H

D

_ _ _ _

Re

2

b

00

2; u;

#d

D

_ _

;

H

D

_ _ _ _

Re

1 2Ar 0 (31)

where a

00

and b

00

are functions not only of [ and u but also of

(Wd/D) and (H/D). Hence, both the ratio of particle size to

column diameter (Wd/D) and the bed aspect ratio (H/D) play a

role in determining U

mf

.

Results and Discussion

The values of the universal constants k

0

1

and k

0

2

which give

the minimum error for the experimental data set presented in

this study were found out to be 610 and 30.1, respectively. In

Figures 36 and Figures 9 and 10, the values of the universal

constants k

0

1

and k

0

2

are kept at these values for all of the par-

ticle types, bed heights, and column diameters.

Figures 36 show that including the wall effects in the

prediction of U

mf

is successful in describing the effects of

height vs. column diameter (H/D) and the effect of particle

size to column diameter (d/D). The model only slightly

under-predicts the increase in U

mf

for very small sized par-

ticles (d \120 lm) in the column with D 1.6 cm, which

is likely due electrostatic cohesive and adhesive forces.

For a xed column diameter, as the H/D ratio increases,

U

mf

increases (Figures 36). Hence, as the column becomes

taller in comparison to its diameter, the wall effects are

more prominent, making it more difcult to uidize the

AIChE Journal September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/aic 2309

particles. Also, for a constant particle size, as d/D ratio

increases (due to changes in column diameter), U

mf

increases

(compare Figures 3 and 4 or Figures 5 and 6). As the col-

umn diameter decreases in comparison to the particle diame-

ter, the ratio of wall contact surface area to the bulk volume

increases, leading to a more signicant wall effect. This wall

effect reduces as the column increases in diameter relative to

the particles, and eventually becomes negligible as d/D

becomes very small. The effect of H/D and d/D on U

mf

are

very similar; in fact, the increase in U

mf

can be characterized

by the product of H/D and d/D (Eq. 30). Additionally, as

particle size increases and approaches the same order of

magnitude as the column diameter (d/D $ O(1)), then uid-

ization becomes difcult. Above a certain d/D ratio, the par-

ticle mixture is impossible to uidize. This situation is pre-

dicted by the model, as the quadratic equation yields com-

plex roots. Similarly, Eq. 30 breaks down for large H/D

ratio predicting that at large H/D the gas may not uidize

the bed. For example, the model predicts that if glass par-

ticles of size 250 lm are uidized in a 760 lm diameter col-

umn (D/d $ 3) with H/D 1, then the particles will not u-

idize. Similarly, the model also predicts that if these par-

ticles are loaded into a 100 cm diameter column to a bed

height of about 13 m (H/D $ 13), the gas may not uidize

the bed.

Figure 9 compares the experimental data from Liu et al.

7

to the values predicted by the model. The data are plotted in

the same dimensional form as given in the orignal work of

Liu et al.

7

The model does not predict the increase in U

mf

for the smaller particles (d 96.4 lm), but it does give

good predictions for the larger particle sizes. In this case

also, the values of k

0

1

and k

0

2

are maintained at 610 and

30.1, respectively. For the largest particles (d 460 lm),

the prediction for the smallest diameter column is not that

good, but this may be due to experimental error, which is

not reported in Liu et al.

7

Also, the values of voidage were

not clearly stated; only values of bulk density were given. In

the model, the values of bulk density were kept constant

with respect to the column diameter, but it has been

observed that this value changes depending on the column

diameter,

28

particularly for small column diameters.

Figure 10 compares the model results to the average pre-

dictions of the Reynolds number at U

mf

based on a large

number of existing correlations.

822

The scatter bars on the

correlation line represent the deviation in minimum uidiza-

tion velocity predictions using the different correlations. The

experimental data obtained when the wall effects are mini-

mum (at H 2 cm and D 2.4 cm) are consistent with the

model prediction and with the averaged correlation curve.

On the other hand, only the new model is able to predict ex-

perimental data obtained when the wall effects are signi-

cant (at H 10 cm, D 1.6 cm), as the existing correla-

tions for U

mf

do not take wall effects into account.

Conclusions

Experiments show that wall effects inuence the minimum

uidization velocity. Existing correlations fail to incorporate

these wall effects and, hence, there is a need for a new

model that can take these effects into consideration. The

model presented in this study attempts to include the wall

inuence by introducing Janssens wall effect in the force

balance during uidization. It is assumed that the horizontal

stresses acting at the wall are not only a function of the local

vertical stress but also are a quadratic function of velocity.

These new terms have the same structure as that of the drag

term, i.e., the pressure drop, as given by the widely accepted

Ergun equation. This assumption leads to a modied Erguns

equation incorporating two universal constants. The new

model ts experimental data reasonably well for the mini-

mum uidization velocity over a range of particles sizes, bed

heights, and column diameters. Some deciencies in the

model predictions are noted for smaller particles (around

100 lm and smaller), but these deciencies may be due to

Figure 10. Comparison of the curves from Eq. 30 to the

experimental data and existing correlations.

Figure 9. The minimum uidization velocity as a func-

tion of the column diameter using the experi-

mental data from Liu et al.

7

The curves are from Eq. 30.

2310 DOI 10.1002/aic Published on behalf of the AIChE September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9 AIChE Journal

the signicance of cohesive and adhesive forces at this scale.

This new model should greatly facilitate scaling results from

MFBs to more traditional uid bed sizes.

Acknowledgments

Jim Prescott and colleagues at Jenike and Johanson are thanked for

their support of this research and for providing the segregation testing

equipment.

Notation

[ voidage

W sphericity

l viscosity

q

g

density of gas

q

s

density of solid

r

H

stress in horizontal direction

r

v

stress in vertical direction

u friction angle

Dp pressure drop

a, b Ergun constants

A cross-sectional area

a

0

,b

0

,c

0

various constants of the quadratic

Ar Archimedes number

D column diameter

d particle diameter

F force

g Gravity

H height of xed bed

k, k

1

, k

2

, k

1

0

, k

2

0

,c

1

,c

2

various constants

Re Reynolds number

U uid velocity

U

mf

Minimum Fluidization velocity

z instantaneous height measured from the top of

the bed

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AIChE Journal September 2010 Vol. 56, No. 9 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/aic 2311

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