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News & Notes

Charboss, the World’s First Mobile Biochar Production System, Was Put to the Test—and Passed with Flying Colors.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2023, the ongoing battle against climate change took a turn for the better. At a biochar production demonstration in Harrisonburg, VA., Air Burners demonstrated the power and cost-efficiency of how the new CharBoss turns unwanted wood waste into biochar, a nutrient-rich byproduct you can sell or use to restore damaged soil.

The patented, advanced technology is similar to the Air Burners trailer-mounted BurnBoss, a towable FireBox that cleanly and cost- effectively eliminates wood waste, including whole trees, stumps, and logs. Like the CharBoss, the BurnBoss is also ideal for forest management, wildfire mitigation, and land clearing operations. The Boss series of machines use air curtain pollution control to eliminate Biomass debris 40x faster than open burns, reduce harmful smoke and particulate matter, and create nutrient-rich carbon biochar that can improve the health of the soil and your bottom line. In addition, each Boss series machine has the mobility to access remote, hard-to-reach areas and the maneuverability makes it easy to avoid obstacles in smaller spaces.

The above-ground, fully-assembled CharBoss and BurnBoss require no grinding, hauling, or permanent facilities. While both eliminate wood waste and create biochar, CharBoss does it with a twist—and adds a shaker table to the burn box that drops material to a conveyor belt where it gets cooled and converted into biochar.

What makes biochar so valuable?

Biochar is a nutrient-rich carbon residue that can amend and restore soil to increase fruit and vegetable crop yields and help restore forests. Biochar also removes impurities and toxins during water filtration, making it ideal for storm water management, mine land reclamation, waste water treatment, odor absorption, agricultural BMPs, and as a replacement for activated carbon.

Thank you.

Air Burners, Inc. is grateful to the following organizations for sponsoring the Biochar Production Demo:

Virginia Department of Forestry

City of Harrisonburg Public Works Department USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations


New Forest Technology Offers Alternative to Burning Slash Piles

By KATE HESTON | Daily Inter Lake

Forest management activities are a major part of life in Northwest Montana; they create valuable products like lumber and employ many across the region.

But in the process, timber harvests also generate woody waste that has little economic value and act as fuel for wildfires, known as slash piles. Burning slash piles releases most of the wood’s beneficial carbon into the air through thick smoke and particulate matter; what’s left is ash.

That’s where the CharBoss comes in, and it just came to Montana.

The Forest Service, working with a private company in Naples, Florida – Air Burner, Inc. – created the mobile machine that converts the woody waste into biochar, a nutrient-rich product with restoration and enhancement potential, specifically in the soil.

Debbie Page-Dumroese, a researcher with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, is a leading expert in soil enrichment and the use of biochar. She helped develop and patent the CharBoss technology.

“This allows us to put a pulse of organic matter back into the soil so the soil can do everything we expect it to do,” Page-Dumroese said in an interview last week.

The Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Flathead National Forest showcased the machinery Feb. 16 during a presentation near Coram. Page-Dumroese was present at the event, among many other industry professionals and interested patrons.

A CharBoss will be used in the Lake Five and Coram area, and the data will be collected during the forestry work.

“The work that the Flathead will be doing here will be some of the first scientific data we have,” Page-Dumroese said at the event.

Scott Snelson, a district ranger in the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest, wanted the CharBoss to come to the Flathead because it helps with the adverse effects logging has on the climate and air quality.

“We have a lot of piles that we are essentially lighting and sending the majority of the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere,” Snelson said. “This is a way for us to capture that material and turn it into stabilized carbon for our benefit.”

The event showed how the CharBoss – a dumpster sized machine that actually converts the slash into biochar – operates without an overuse of smoke, in turn creating nutrient rich, charcoal like material.

Biochar, according to the Rocky Mountain Research Station, can boost soil water holding capacity, promote vegetation growth, build landscape resistance and increase carbon sequestration potential in soil. They identified four main purposes for the product: agriculture, forest restoration, mine reclamation and tree nurseries.

The woody biomass that goes into the machine is leftover product from forest operations, like stems, limbs, leaves and other parts of trees. There is a motor across the top of the bin that creates an air curtain, preventing the smoke and particulates from escaping. An arm in the machine moves back and forth while the wood burns to move the overly burnt wood out of the way, preventing the creation of ash.

Page-Dumroese said the machines are helpful in wildfire mitigation work, especially in places where structures are nearby. The machines could be used by forestry departments, forestry contractors, or even compost facilities and landfills.

She also said that the machine can be replicated to a smaller version, such as a kiln or a small controlled fire pit.

The event in Coram showcased one of these kilns burning slash into biochar, a smaller option of the technology. While the kiln does not have an air curtain to avoid excess smoke, lighting it from the top down and off of the ground creates a flame cap that helps to keep more nutrients in and prevent the wood from burning down to ash.

“I started doing this a couple years ago and I have never had as many green beans as I do now using biochar,” Page-Dumroese said, talking about putting biochar into her garden soil.

There is some hesitation with the new product. Keith Hammer, who attended the event, said that there is worry that the biochar, by removing slash piles, will impact habitat and not help the forest in the greater context of carbon sequestration.

Hammer, Chair of the Swan View Coalition in Kalispell, an environmental group, worries that the new biochar binds up water and nutrients that plants need, in turn preventing those plants from getting those nutrients right away. He cites a paper written by Page-Dumroese from 2017, which can imply that in certain cases, leaving slash spread on the ground compares favorably to putting biochar on the soil.

Hammer noted that he recognized the machine is targeted toward slash caused by logging, but worried about the future and expense of removing all slash piles.

“Leave the forest alive and standing,” Hammer said. “... nature has been at this for a long time.”

Page-Dumroese recognized the concern, agreeing that slash piles can be habitat for animals like rabbits and gophers. But she assured that foresters are not going to burn all slash piles, mainly just the massive ones at log landings, specifically to help native vegetation grow faster on the sites.

According to Snelson, the CharBoss and biochar technology will improve the ecological base in Montana forests. He also noted that if we were to embrace the technology, “we could be a real climate leader.”

Rather than releasing the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, this technology lets people trap the material and turn it into stabilized carbon – improving the atmosphere and the soil, Snelson said.

Tim McEntire, a Northwest Region Representative with the Montana Logging Association, attended the event in Coram as well. He said that Montana loggers look forward to the continued push to diversify the lumber business.

“This is just another tool we can use,” McEntire said.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at or at 758-4459.

The CharBoss, a machine that converts woody material into biochar, is seen on Feb. 16, 2023 at a showcase event near Coram. (Kate Heston/Daily Inter Lake)

USFS Making Biochar to Create a Healthier Forest

Forest Management helps reduce wildfire risk and maintain healthy, natural growth. A process that can create valuable products, like lumber, but also leave tons of unwanted waste. To solve this growing problem, the USDA Forest Service and Air Burners teamed up to develop the CharBoss through a CRADA agreement with the USFS. A technologically-driven solution to convert that waste into biochar. This valuable carbon-rich biochar restores soil and improves agricultural land. After a successful launch in 2020, the team went to work to add even more fuel efficiency and biochar production capacity. The upgraded CharBoss made its demo debut at the University of Idaho Experimental Forest in January 2023 and turned forest-thinning slash piles into ‘black gold’ biochar.


Debbie Page-Dumroese, a researcher with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, is a leading expert in biochar and shared her excitement about the technological developments she helped to develop and patent. “The ability to process woody residues on-site reduces open burning or the need to transport materials off-site, so there is less smoke and air pollution. Even better, we can create this terrific product that can be used to restore damaged soil.” Jim Archuleta, a Forest Service regional biomass coordinator, who helped pioneer the innovation of CharBoss, echoed the enthusiasm, “Making biochar production part and parcel of normal Forest Service activities is the best way to make the seismic changes needed to help adapt to our changing climate.”


See the CharBoss in action at one of our demonstration workshops across the western United States and Pacific Northwest and learn more about the revolutionary technology behind CharBoss here.

CharBoss | Machine Turns Waste-wood Into Climate-friendly Product

CharBoss is a mobile machine that coverts waste-wood products like lumber into biochar, a nutrient-rich product that can be used for soil restoration.

The Flathead National Forest released the following information:

Forest management activities create valuable wood products like lumber but can also generate woody residues with little or no economic value. This waste material is generally burned or hauled away. The USDA Forest Service and a private company, Air Burner Inc., teamed up to help find a solution to this problem. CharBoss is a mobile machine that converts waste-wood products into biochar, a nutrient-rich product that can be used for soil restoration or to enhance agricultural land.

Debbie Page-Dumroese is a researcher with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station who helped develop and patent the technology and is a leading expert in the use of biochar. She shared her excitement in the latest developments, “The ability to process woody residues on-site reduces open burning or the need to transport materials off-site, so there is less smoke and air pollution. Even better, we can create this terrific product that can be used to restore damaged soil.”

The CharBoss made its initial debut in Bandon, Oregon in the fall of 2020 by tackling Gorse, an invasive woody shrub, and demonstrating how this technology can be used to also improve wildlife habitat. The CharBoss team recorded the demonstration and it is available online.

Seeing an opportunity to make improvements the team re-engineered the CharBoss to be more efficient and increase its production volume. The updated CharBoss has been transported from Florida to Idaho and will be arriving in the Flathead Valley in early February. The Flathead National Forest, Rocky Mountain Research Station, and the Montana DNRC, with help from the heavy equipment program at Flathead Valley Community College, will host a demonstration for interested land managers, partners, and the public. The event is scheduled to take place at the Lake Five timber sale near Coram, MT Thursday, February 16, 2023. This time it will be utilizing slash created by forest thinning and fuels reduction to produce “black gold” otherwise known as biochar.

Science suggests that biochar can increase seedling quality and enhance degraded soils with its rich carbon content and moisture retention properties. Land managers can use the CharBoss to create biochar on-site without worrying about the logistics of off-site production and transportation. Mobile processing can also help rural economies by providing local materials and jobs for forest restoration.

Jim Archuleta is a Forest Service regional biomass coordinator who helped pioneer the innovation of CharBoss. He talks about its potential for mitigating climate change, by reducing unnecessary smoke and emissions and returning carbon to soils and vegetation at larger landscape scales, “Making biochar production part and parcel of normal Forest Service activities is the best way to make the seismic changes needed to help adapt to our changing climate.”

You can learn more about the technology behind CharBoss here. For more information on our local demonstration, click here or contact Ivy Gehling at (406) 758-5251 or


The USDA Forest Service and Air Burner Inc. teamed up to turn waste-wood into a climate-friendly product. (Photo: Flathead National Forest Supervisor's Office). Full Article here.

DEQ Permits New Incinerator for Better Air Quality

Hagadone News Network | December 13, 2022. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is ready to sign a permit to Shoshone County next week for the first air curtain incinerator in the state of Idaho.

“It will substantially reduce the material (Shoshone County) has to ship to a landfill, so not only will it help the environment, it’ll save the county money,” said Shawn Sweetapple, DEQ air quality manager.

The machine can start burning huge stacks of slash piled up after major windstorms downed trees along county roads in 2019 in Shoshone County, Sweetapple said.

“Road and bridge department was cutting down branch after branch and they had I don’t know how many tons of woody material to get rid of,” said Dan Smith, regional airshed coordinator for DEQ. “If they were to burn that traditionally, it would be a terrible pollutant problem.”

The curtain incinerator is exciting to Smith, who fights to keep air quality in the Panhandle within the federal standards, because it re-routes smoke in the incinerator back into the flames to reduce particulates and air pollution.

The incinerator emits 85% less pollution than traditional burning and will greatly reduce the impact of disposing of the countless tons of woody material at the Kellogg transfer station, Smith said.

A study published by Susan M. Zahn, Fuels Management Specialist for the U.S. Forest Service found air curtain incinerators produce lower smoke emissions, burn a greater variety of materials from dead to green vegetation, reduce fire risk, operate with fewer restrictions in weather conditions, and contain a burn area to a specific site.

“We would like to see more of these come into use in our area, because the more we can reduce open slash burning in general is good for everyone’s air quality,” Sweetapple said.

Smith normally fights to prevent burning green wood because of the negative impact it has on local air quality, but the new incinerator will allow broader burning for more efficient disposal of wood waste.

“It is not a solid waste incinerator,” Sweetapple said. “Just clean woody waste.”

In the winter months when burn permit requirements are not in effect, air quality drops, Smith said.

During climate inversions, wood stoves and fireplaces can add to air pollution, compounded by clearing of commercial property for developments, where companies will burn huge piles of material and green trees to clear land for construction.

Every winter, those factors increase pollutants in the air, Smith said, which can reach dangerous levels in valley areas, like St Maries, or Hayden Lake.

“Your neighbor burning slash piles gets into your indoor air,” Smith said. “And indoor air tends to be more concentrated.”

Pollutants also contribute to the spread of viruses.

“Viral interaction with particulate matter increases transmission of viruses,” Smith said.

So the DEQ provided $150,000 in grant money for the incinerator in Shoshone, and it hopefully will pave the foundation for other air curtain incinerators to follow.

“It’s much healthier than regularly burning a slash pile.”

Dan Smith, regional airshed coordinator for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, checks the live air quality in St. Maries, Coeur d'Alene and other Panhandle regions. JOSA SNOW/Hagadone News Network

Making BioChar From a Standard Air Burners FireBox

PALM CITY, FL (May 1, 2019) Biochar is charcoal from wood burning that is used to improve soil conditions for growing crops and to foster forest health. That knowledge is not new but in an effort to improve harvests without the need for undesirable chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Biochar is getting a lot of worldwide attention in recent years. If you operate an Air Burners FireBox you too can make a fair amount of Biochar without much effort and add a profit line to your business. Biochar, as a porous carbon substance that retains water makes nutrients more available thereby strengthening plants in agriculture, gardening and woodlands. It is produced naturally by forest fires and agricultural field burning.

The process to produce Biochar is by pyrolysis; wood is burned in the absence of oxygen and what we have left is Biochar. This sounds like a simple process, but to produce large quantities of commercial Biochar economically and in an environmentally sound way has proven difficult. Air curtain burners were designed as a pollution control device to eliminate wood waste quickly in an environmentally acceptable way. As any combustion process leaves behind an ash residue, so does the FireBox. As the wood ashes collect in the bottom of the FireBox, some coals are insulated by the ash and starved of oxygen. If their further combustion is curtailed you have created Biochar.

Recently, the US Forest Service, keen on using Biochar in forests around the country, has recognized the simplicity of this and has teamed up with Air Burners to develop a way to optimize Biochar production in a FireBox, yet still eliminate large amounts of wood waste or forest slash at the same time. This is underway through a CRADA, a research and development agreement between the US Forest Service and Air Burners. A decisive factor for the Government was that the standard FireBox is already officially recognized as an environmentally sound way to burn or dispose of wood waste.

Some of Air Burners customers are already producing Biochar from their FireBoxes. With little effort they are both helping the environment and creating a secondary income from their machines. Here is a general outline of how you can produce Biochar from your Air Burners FireBox. These are the 5 basic steps to making Biochar in your Air Burners FireBox:

1) At the end of each work day the ash and coals are raked out of the FireBox.

2) Air Burners ash rake is used to rake away the solids which may include some unburned wood separating them from the powdery light-colored ashes.

3) The solid coals and wood chunks are dowsed (quenched) with water from a hand-held hose.

4) Now the material is sized by using a simple ½” screen.

5) The Biochar that passes through the screen is taken to the Biochar storage pile.

And that is it. Some of our customers are making as much as 10-15 cubic yards per day, per machine. The Biochar can now be sold in bulk or bagged to local farmers, tree nurseries and home gardeners. The Biochar produced at this level can be sold for as much as $120.00 per 1 cubic yard bag. As no special equipment or machinery is needed for the Biochar extraction, the only extra cost component is the extra time at the end of the normal work shift to complete the above steps.

Air Burners, Inc. is located in Palm City, Florida. For the past 21 years has been the world leader in the design and manufacturing of Air Curtain Burners and Biomass Energy systems. Air Burners and the US Forest Service are collaborating on a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) aimed at streamlining the biochar manufacturing process to aid in forest health.

Visit our website at: for more information.


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Photo Credit: Charlotte Organix LLC. FireBox Biochar Produced in 3 days Ready for Market
Photo Credit: Charlotte Organix LLC. FireBox Biochar Produced in 3 days Ready for Market

BIOMASS CONFERENCE: What if the Problem is the Waste, not the Energy?

PALM CITY, Florida, January 6, 2020 – Our World is drowning in waste and the focus on this dilemma tends to be directed at plastic waste, minimizing, recycling and repurposing. What about the massive “forgotten” waste stream that is mostly of natural origin, wood and vegetative waste? According to agencies like the U.S. EPA and the World Bank, it accounts for about 20 percent of all waste. In 2014, U.S. EPA reported that, in the Unites States, approximately 70 million tons of “urban” biomass waste was collected, and only 45 percent was recycled. The balance went into our already atcapacity landfills. So, where is this waste to go? We need to eliminate as much of it as possible. Biomass Energy is a partial solution. However, traditional Biomass to Energy plants are not cost effective due to the significant preprocessing required. Today’s biomass to energy plants are very good at extracting energy from wood waste but that means their efficiency at eliminating the waste is very poor. They are solving an energy problem not a waste problem. In today’s world we need to solve the waste problem. The new Air Burners PGFireBox® does exactly that, eliminate the waste at a significantly higher rate with less cost and less impact on our environment.

We are excited to announce Air Burners’ participation at the International Biomass Conference and Expo on February 3-5, 2020 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Join us at BOOTH #602 and, catch our President, Brian O’Connor at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 5th speaking about solutions to solve the wood and vegetative waste elimination problem while also producing electric and thermal energy.

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Click Here to Read more about Forgotten Waste in this White Paper

After the fire—wood waste put to work

Featured by: USDA and U.S. Forest Service 

Biochar, or wood waste, is a porous carbon substance that results from burning wood in the absence of oxygen. It is typically created when burning chunks of wood are covered by ash, soil or a lid, which insulates the coals and starves them of oxygen. This fire remnant provides a valuable addition to soil for agriculture and gardening purposes as well as contributing to overall forest health.

When added to soil, biochar increases soil carbon and can restore the soil’s pH balance. Soil with a high carbon content is teeming with life and rich in nutrients, requires less fertilizer and produces healthier food. Carbon-rich soil also absorbs and retains water more efficiently, which helps farmers reduce the effects of floods and drought.

“One thing to keep in mind is that biochar does not add nutrients to the soil, but it can help retain them,” said Forest Service research soil scientist Deborah Page-Dumroese. “Biochar is 80 percent carbon, and that’s the big-ticket item. Adding biochar to soil increases soil’s water-holding capacity, which leads to less runoff and leaching, better infiltration, higher water quality and better downstream water flow because more moisture is retained in the soil.”

Biochar also helps restore soil that has been damaged by fire or human activity. Biochar can be easily made in well-constructed slash piles and be used on-site to restore soil organic matter. In places where this method is used, biochar has extended vegetation growth by nearly a month, resulting in reduced fire risk.

Despite its usefulness, biochar is difficult to produce in large quantities for agricultural, forestry or commercial use. With healthy forests in mind, the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station and Air Burners, Inc. teamed up to optimize biochar production for the marketplace. The company has partnered with the Forest Service through a cooperative agreement to help find a solution to this market problem. The company’s commercial fireboxes, used for processing wood and vegetative waste, are being modified to produce high-quality biochar.

“We’re using non-merchantable forest residues to create biochar,” said Page-Dumroese. “We’ve been testing a forest-to-farm concept in Oregon, where low-value woody biomass, a byproduct of harvest operations, is uniform and abundant. It makes sense that we match the pace and scale of harvest operations to that of biochar production.” Using the Air Burner (and other) production technologies, the Forest Service can help deliver biochar to unirrigated agricultural production markets to extend the economic, social and ecological benefits of our forest restoration efforts.

Applying biochar can even reduce invasive species growth and help native species expand their range. Since many invasive species prefer a nitrogen-rich environment, biochar can reduce invasive species by tying up nitrogen in many soil types. Biochar has also been successfully used in western forests during removal of old roads to restore them to a natural condition and to restore soils after thinning, among other applications.

Non-merchantable, or low value, wood waste such as this can be converted into biochar. USDA Forest Service photo by Deborah Page-Dumroese.
Non-merchantable, or low value, wood waste such as this can be converted into biochar. USDA Forest Service photo by Deborah Page-Dumroese.
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Air Burners to Demonstrate Green-Friendly Air Curtain Burner Technology in Arizona

BELLEMONT, AZ (June 13, 2019) Air Burners will be holding public demonstrations of its exclusive Air Burners FireBox system on June 18 and 19, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These demonstrations will take place at Camp Navajo, located at 1 Hughes Avenue, Bellemont, Arizona. Technicians will be on hand to provide information and to answer questions about the FireBox system, which offers a portable solution to disposing of biomass in a convenient and environmentally sound way.  

Those who plan to attend can contact Mike Schmitt of the Air Burners team at 772-631-8140 or Jay Smith, the Forest Restoration Director of Coconino County, Arizona. The event is expected to attract local agencies, businesses and members of the press. An RSVP is requested but not necessary to attend these public demonstrations.

The Air Burners FireBox system offers a number of important advantages for the disposal of biomass:

  • State and federal agencies have used FireBoxes to reduce the amount of excess wood and vegetative waste in forested areas. This can reduce or prevent the spread of wildfires to provide a safer environment for animals and people in at-risk areas.
  • FireBoxes are a portable solution for removal of vegetative waste. Because they can be moved to the exact locations in which they are needed, FireBoxes are the most flexible option for dealing with wood biomass. This ensures the fastest and most practical approach to clearing away dead vegetation that could fuel a wildfire.
  • In addition to the standard FireBox you will see on site, Air Burners offers many other products with the same wood burning principles. The Air Burners PGFireBox uses the heat generated by burning wood and biomass to produce electricity. This makes it an energy-efficient and practical choice for powering outposts. The unique design of the PGFireBox allows it to perform double duty in eliminating excess wood biomass while producing the power needed to maintain operations for temporary camps.
  • Biochar is a natural byproduct of FireBox operation. This material is in high demand for improving the quality of soil in gardens, agricultural operations and in woodlands. The U.S. Forest Service uses FireBoxes to eliminate wood waste and to produce Biochar. This process is similar to the one that occurs naturally and is an environmentally responsible way to deal with biomass and materials produced during routine forest maintenance activities.

During the demonstrations, Air Burners technicians will provide detailed information about how the FireBox works and how to use it effectively. These technical experts will also explain and demonstrate some of the most important benefits of the FireBox system for attendees at this two-day event.

To learn more about the Air Burners lineup or to respond to the invitation, call Mike Schmitt at 772-631-8140 or by email at You may also visit our website at An RSVP is requested but not required for this event.

First Test of Our Biochar FireBox Under CRADA with US Forest Service a Success

Last Spring, Air Burners announced its partnership with the USDA Forest Service under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to explore augmentations to its FireBoxes to optimize Biochar production in the forest. The goal was to develop a commercially viable Biochar production machine that would be low cost and able to simultaneously provide sound elimination of wood waste with reasonable production of Biochar. It also must be easy to operate and maintain and portable or mobile with a small footprint, such as to minimize disturbing the forest floor. Our design goal incorporates these premises.

Air Burners recently tested a Biochar prototype machine based on a modified BurnBoss, a trailer mounted FireBox with a 12-foot refractory burn chamber. The system successfully produced ample Biochar thereby proving the design’s viability. In the next development phase, the Biochar-BurnBoss will be refined with the aim in mind to keep in under a $75,000 price threshold.

All Air Burners FireBoxes, including the BurnBoss have been extensively officially tested for their superior performance to meet air emissions and fugitive particulate releases from the wood waste combustion process. They meet all with flying colors and respective documentation to verify that is available on request.

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