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Proceedings of the 2012 9th International Pipeline Conference IPC2012 September 24-28, 2012, Calgary, Alberta, Canada



Miguel Freitas Marcelo Roberto Jimenez Jean Pierre von der Weid Centro de Pesquisa em Tecnologia de Inspecao - CPTI Pontifcia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro - PUC-Rio Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

ABSTRACT Inspecting the integrity of exible pipelines in offshore installations requires the use of non invasive techniques, as the removal of the external sheath to allow inspection of the axial load carrying wires will increase the chance of structure degradation. Determining the strain in axial wires provides a signicant indication of wire breakage and whether or not the structure has been compromised. This paper investigates the feasibility of employing a new technique based on acoustic resonance to monitor the mechanical stress in these wires. Results from experiments with exible pipelines show that it is possible to obtain the wires resonance signals through the outer sheath in some circumstances. The technique, called Electromagnetic Acoustic Resonance (EMAR), produces ultrasonic waves on the wire using electromagnetic transducers (EMAT) and is able to estimate the mechanical stress by measuring the frequency of the acoustic resonances for different polarizations of the shear waves. Variations in coupling quality such as lift-off or even the unknown wire separation will not directly affect the estimated stress values. Laboratory experiments with the armor wires have shown that stress estimation is possible within a range of uncertainty of 18.8 MPa. Measurements on exible pipelines through the external sheath, composed of 5 mm of polymer layer, two Kevlar layers and an adhesive tape, were made. Higher lift-offs, up to about 9-10 mm, are still possible depending on particular pipelines construction.


author, email:

INTRODUCTION Since 1978, when the rst exible riser was installed in Brazil, there has been a steady increase in the usage of unbonded exible pipelines in offshore platforms. Today, the integrity management program of these pipelines still represents a formidable challenge to operators worldwide. A number of riser failures were reported over the last decade [1], contributing to make this issue a top priority. The most prevalent kind of failure is the damage of the external plastic sheath (25% of reported occurrences [1]), which may seriously reduce the service life of the pipeline due to the exposition of the tensile armour layer to the corrosive environment. Another, much more insidious, failure mode of exible risers is the armour wire breakage [2]. Because the wires carry the axial load of the structure, their failure can lead to catastrophic outcomes. The breakage of only a few wires can easily pass unnoticed as the induced torsion or sheath distortion may be too small [3]. Part of the difculty in assessing the integrity of the exible pipelines is due to the limitations found in most inspection techniques which cannot reach key structural elements, specically the armour wires which are protected by the external polymeric layer. Removing the external sheath to access the wires risks either directly damaging them, or exposing them to the already mentioned corrosive degradation [4]. Also, wire breakage commonly occurs inside the risers end tting connection [2], which further complicates the inspection. Because of practical limitations, the end tting inspection is 1 Copyright c 2012 by ASME

not considered viable, except for radiography [2, 5]. Fortunately, for wire breakage detection, the loss of tension is still present up to a few meters apart from where the rupture occurred [6]. Therefore, strain monitoring of the wires outside the connection provides a strong indication of otherwise hidden failures. An electromagnetic-based technique that has been recently proposed to detect wire ruptures by strain variation through the outer polymer sheath is the MAPS-FR system [7]. This technique detects the wire breakage thanks to the sensitivity of some magnetic properties of ferromagnetic materials to mechanical stress. This is a very difcult electromagnetic inverse problem to solve due to the complex geometry, the expected variations in wires separation and parameters like hardness, grain size, texture and other material properties which also affect the magnetic response [7]. These shortcomings have currently restricted the system to operate only in a continuously monitoring mode, looking for changes over time. So far, no eld installations of the MAPS-FR have been reported. Another recently proposed technique, called Electromagnetic Acoustic Resonance (EMAR) [8], employs electromagnetic transducers (EMAT) to produce ultrasonic waves on the wire. Thanks to the electromagnetic coupling, the technique works through the external sheath like MAPS-FR does. The polymeric layer is considered transparent to electromagnetic waves and its attenuation is mostly just the normal free-space loss as would be expected from an equivalent air gap lift-off between the transducer and the wire. However, unlike MAPS-FR which rely solely on electromagnetic indications, the physical property used to sense the strain is based on acoustoelasticity, not magnetism. This detachment between coupling and measurement phenomena brings advantages, as most kinds of interference to the electromagnetic signals do not directly change the estimated stress values when using EMAR. MAPS-FR for instance requires additional, possibly complex, signal processing in order to deal with the unknown wire separation and other variables [7, 9]. This paper starts with a brief review of the technology, followed by the description of experiments performed to evaluate the viability of the riser inspection.

electric signal


y d Stress (in x) x


s llel phear wav olariz e ation

wave shearndicular perpezation polari


ELECTROMAGNETIC ACOUSTIC RESONANCE The complete description of the physics involved with electromagnetic coupling and the acoustoelastic theory is outside the scope of this paper, so readers may want to look for the references [10, 11]. An important point of note about using EMAT to produce acoustic waves, and acoustic resonances in particular, is that the weak (inefcient) coupling when compared to traditional piezoelectric transducers helps building up better quality and long lasting resonances. Very little amount of mechanical energy is lost on each reection at wires surface because the dry coupling is very inefcient, so energy tends to remain inside the piece. Also, 2

the mechanical waves are produced directly on the metallic surface, which means there are no liquid couplants or transducers wedges to add unknown delays. The discipline that provides the relationship between mechanical stress and the ultrasound waves on solid media is called acoustoelasticity. Their main equations date back to the 1950s [12] allowing one to calculate the propagation speed for a given strain and a set of material properties, the acoustoelastic coefcients. Even though acoustoelasticity provides a solid theoretical foundation for estimating the stresses, the effect on the propagation speed is so subtle (changes in the order of 104%) that it is also very hard to measure it with the required accuracy. Acoustic resonance helps closing this technological gap, providing a highly accurate method for wave propagation speed estimation. The basic scheme of transducer positioning and wave generation on wire for stress measurement is shown in Fig. 1. Two polarized shear waves are produced on the piece, one of them is aligned with the stress axis x. Resonance is created by constructive interference of the wave that travels across thickness d of the wire and the new wave being generated at the surface. In order to build up in amplitude, those waves need to add perfectly in phase. The resonance condition can be stated in terms of a simple expression: f(n) = nv/(2d), i.e., a resonance will be produced for every frequency fn multiple of the fundamental frequency (given by the ratio between propagation speed v and twice the thickness d). The advantage in the use resonance is the fact that modern electronics can synthesize and lter high frequencies very accurately and precisely. Even if resonance frequency can be accurately obtained, a Copyright c 2012 by ASME

problem remains: the exact thickness is still unknown. This can be solved by using the so called acoustic birefringence (B) given by the following equation [8] f(n) f(n)
(1) (2) (1) (2)


f(n) + f(n) /2

= B0 + CA (x y )


frequency ranges, the shear and compressive wave resonances can be very close at the spectrum, which might lead to wrong results in the case of misclassication. This is an extra measure of care because the EMAT transducer used is not supposed produce any meaningful compressive waves, but still, some sort of mode conversion might occur. Measuring stress on wires This experiment aims to evaluate the viability of employing EMAR technique for stress measurement on armour wires, although on ideal, laboratory controlled, conditions. A single wire is loaded with increasing stress values, which is monitored using a resistive strain gauge. The conversion from strain to stress uses the Youngs modulus of 218 GPa, previously determined in a servo-hydraulic testing machine. No calibrated load cell was used to validate the stress values of the experiment, which might account for small discrepancies. While the wire is loaded from zero up to the yield point, measurements are performed every 160 MPa. Because of a crack that started growing at one of the wire at the gripping tool with just 480 MPa, the measurements were made more frequently (every 40 MPa) for the last part of the sequence. Each step measurement is composed of ve birefringence readings, which means a total of ten resonant frequency sweeps needed to acquire both shear wave polarizations. Figure 2 shows the raw experiment results with bars repre(1) senting the difference between the two resonance peaks f(8) f(8) of Eq. (1). There is a slightly increased dispersion on 480 MPa due to the crack opening but, otherwise, the results are very consistent. Also because of the already mentioned crack, the yield point (about 1100 MPa) could not be reached in this experiment. The results for frequency variation due to stress were compared with existing data from the literature. No data were found for the same SAE 1060 steel found in armour wires, so Table 1 reproduces the previous data along with the specic steel used on each study. The K f values are frequency-normalized coefcients to the unstressed frequency f0 , or f / f0 , as commonly reported in literature. Some of the values shown in Table 1 had to be converted from speed-normalized coefcients (v/v0 ). This conversion is discussed in detail in [10]. Figure 3 shows the birefringence data for the wire loading experiment. Using linear regression the following acoustoelastic constants were found for Eq. (1): B0 = 14.0 103 and CA = 1.04 105/MPa. The standard deviation for B is 7.6 105, which is equivalent to 7.3 MPa. The estimated error is therefore 18.8 MPa with a 95% condence interval. This result is comparable to reference [19] that reported errors of 10 MPa or to reference [20], that states that tolerance for the acoustic birefringence technique 3 Copyright c 2012 by ASME

where superscript index (1) and (2) refer to the resonance frequencies associated to the two shear waves shown in Fig. 1. Because of the applied stress and the materials macroscopical anisotropy, the propagation speeds for these two shear wave polarizations are slightly different, producing different resonance frequencies for the same thickness. The acoustoelastic constant CA provides the relationship to the principal stresses x and y . The offset B0 is obtained in a stress free state and it is due to the existence of texture in the material1 . Birefringence eliminates dependence on thickness but adds dependence on B0 , which must be calibrated or determined somehow. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP AND RESULTS For exible riser inspection, a particular kind of wire was considered. It is made of SAE 1060 steel with a cross section of about 12 millimeters wide and 4 millimeters thick. Due to cold rolling it shows a signicative texture which is reected in the parameter B0 . This is a common wire armour size used in a range of riser diameters. The experimental setup is based on the high power amplier integrated with superheterodyne receiver RAM-5000, which is commercially available from Ritec Inc. Some experiments were performed on bare wires being stressed apart from pipeline structure. Other experiments evaluated the acoustic resonances of wires in place, specically to account for variations inter- and intra-wires. Linearly polarized EMAT transducers were used all along the experiments. This adds a small burden on realization because the transducer has to be frequently rotated in order to obtain the two resonance frequencies needed for birefringence calculation. The use of circular EMAT, which excites both polarizations at the same time, may reduce time but care must be taken to account for its known discrepancy in results when compared to linear transducers [15]. The frequency range used for EMAR experiments on wires is about 3.2 MHz, which is the eighth order shear wave resonance. This frequency was chosen due to the high amplitude and quality of the spectral line shape and also to avoid possible interference from the compressive wave resonances. For some other

1 General separation between stress and texture parts of the birefringence is somewhat disputed [13], but in cases like uniaxial loading or stress aligned with main crystallographic axis, this is considered a valid model [14].


Parallel shear

f(1) f(2)

Perpendicular shear

Resonance peak [kHz]

= 39.859 kHz


= 45.098 kHz

= 33.615 kHz

= 28.488 kHz

= 27.528 kHz

= 26.296 kHz




320 Stress [MPa]

480 520 560 600



Reference This work Ref. [16] Ref. [17] Ref. [18] Steel SAE 1060 A723 Train track 1018 Kf



-9.7 -7.8 -5.5 -7.3

+0.80 +0.57 +1.7 +0.0

0.015 0.014 B = (f -f )/mean(f ,f )


0.013 0.012 0.011 0.010 0.009 0.008 0.007 0 160 320 Stress [MPa] 480 520 560 600





is within 40 MPa for steel. For the riser inspection application, the achieved tolerance is enough to discriminate between good (loaded) and broken wires with a wide margin. 4

Birefrigence data B=14.03x10 -0.01044x10


, r=0.99896


= 25.178 kHz


Temperature dependence This experiment demonstrates the sensibility of acoustic birefringence to the temperature of the material. The temperature effect on propagation speed is well known from standard ultrasound theory and practice. However, differently from acoustoelasticity equations on stress, temperature is an isotropic property of the material, so it is reasonable to expect that the propagation speed will change equally for both polarizations. These effects on the acoustic birefringence parameter B are then supposed to cancel out, in the same way as happens with the thickness dependence. A custom heating system was designed with a power transistor and control electronics instead of using an existing oven. The assembly keeps the transducer away from the heated element by using thermal insulating foam around the wire and the heating/sensing element. The temperature was calibrated with a standard digital thermometer with tenths of Celsius degree accuracy. Figure 4 shows a thermal image acquired with an infrared camera with the upper layer of the insulating foam removed. In order to obtain the thermal coefcient on speed variation, a linear regression is performed on the average resonant frequency values for every temperature and polarization, as shown in Fig. 5. The linear tting is exceptionally good, with Pearson correlation coefcient of 0.9994. The thermal coefcients found in Fig. 5, however, differ about 10% between polarizations. This is a somewhat unexpected result as it causes a small change to the birefringence as well, and that could possibly be mistaken for stress. Calculating the birefringence for every temperature in the experiment (a total span of 24C) yields a maximum variation B 0.0004, which could be misinterpreted as a stress variation of 19 MPa. Even if this small thermal effect is disregarded in the nal riser inspection application, the separation between good and Copyright c 2012 by ASME

0.003 0.002 0.001


f , /mean(f ,

0.000 0.001 0.002

0.003 30




broken wires would not be compromised. Still, the thermal effect could be easily compensated for by using an external thermometer.
B = (f -f )/mean(f ,f )
(1) (2) (1) (2)

Inter-wire variation This is the rst experiment performed with wires in a real exible pipeline section, which can be seen in Fig. 6. The pipeline provided by CENPES/Petrobras has a diameter of 10 inches and two layers of tensile wires with 45 wires on each layer. The external polymer sheath and two Kevlar layers were removed for direct wire measurement. There is no applied load on wires because this is just a short section with open ends, so the stress must be zero on every wire. This leaves the texture dependent parameter B0 as the only cause of a possible inter-wire birefringence variation, which is the object of study in this experiment. The standard practice for acoustic birefringence inspection is to calibrate B0 with another piece of the same material that is the subject of inspection, although known to be unstressed [8]. The important question here is how similar a stray wire (provided by the same manufacturer) is to the wires currently installed, in terms of mechanical properties like texture. This concern directly affects the ability of using a stray wire for stress calibration of the system, removing the unknown B0 factor. According to the literature [8, 20], once B0 is obtained from a piece which is equal to the one under inspection, the other factor, CA , can be safely assumed constant from previous laboratory experiments with the same material. In order words, B0 may change with how the piece is prepared (e.g., cold rolled) but CA is mostly constant for a given material. This is a reassuring remark for the acoustic birefringence technique in general because 5


45 40 Temperature [ C]



Parallel shear f f /f =-1.64x10 /[ C] (r=0.99939) Perpendicular shear f f /f =-1.81x10 /[ C] (r=0.99940)

(1) (1) (1) 4





0.018 0.016 0.014 0.012 0.010 0.008 1



21 26 Wire number





performing stress loading experiments on the eld could be very troublesome. In this experiment each of the 45 external wires had its birefringence taken from the two polarizations. The process was then repeated, using different sampling points of each wire, to verify consistence between the two rounds. The birefringence results, with error bars to account for the difference between the two rounds, is shown in Fig. 7. Except for wires 22 and 38, a great repeatability was found for birefringence. Unfortunately, the experiment also demonstrates that B, and hence B0 , is subject to a wide inter-wire variation. This variation can be better appreciated if B is converted to stress values or compared to the loaded/unloaded criteria. A common practice for exible pipeline design is to load wires up to 30% of their Copyright c 2012 by ASME

3320 3300 Resonance peak [kHz] 3280 3260 3240 3220 32000

Parallel shear resonance f for wire #37



20 30 Transducer position [mm]




3260 3240

Perpendicular shear resonance f for wire #37

yield strength at service [10], which corresponds to B = 0.0034. From Fig. 7 it is clear that the difference from extremes, highest B to lowest B, can be as much as 0.008, which is more than the expected criteria. It is not possible to calibrate B0 from a single reference wire because of the wide dispersion of birefringence between wires (texture variation). In order to solve the so called birefringence ambiguity, another auxiliary method must be employed [20]. There is also the possibility of not solving this ambiguity and restraining the technique to work only in a differential fashion, i.e., a rst scanning of the wires B values would only be used to establish a signature to a given pipeline. This signature can only be used as a reference and not as a direct stress estimation. Subsequent measurements of wires birefringences would then be compared to the reference signature in order to evaluate how stresses have changed since the rst scanning. Intra-wire variation The intra-wire experiment evaluates how birefringence varies along the same wire. Three wires of the riser that showed non-negligible B variation between the two rounds of the previous experiment where chosen for intra-wire evaluation. The stray wire was also used here as a reference because it is not subject to the helicoidal path inside the pipeline as the others are. The experiment setup is better described by the Fig. 8, which shows a millimeter graph paper positioned over the chosen wire. The experimental procedure consists in obtaining resonance frequencies for both polarizations at separations of one millimeter along the center of the wire. Figure 9 shows the result of the millimetric scanning of the wire number 37 in a colormap visualization, for both polarizations. Every column of the colormap is a frequency sweep (spec6

Resonance peak [kHz]

3220 3200 3180 31600


20 30 Transducer position [mm]



trum) acquired upon a single position, with spectrum amplitude represented as a color ranging from blue (lowest) to red (highest). The identied resonance peak on each spectrum, which will be used for birefringence calculation, is marked with a yellow dot. The colormap for all the three evaluated wires of the riser present a clear variation in resonant frequency along the wire. Sometimes, as can be seen in Fig. 9 with perpendicular polarization, there is periodic pattern that resembles the spacing of the next (inner) layer of wires. In order to test for the inner layer of wires to be the cause of the observed variation, the experiment was repeated with the stray wire. The colormap obtained for this wire is shown in Fig. 10. There is a marked difference in resonance frequency variation, as the stray wire shows a mostly stable resonance peak along the wire without the periodic patterns previously seen. This is a further evidence that wires conformability to the pipeline body may be the cause of the observed intra-wire variation. The intra-wire birefringence for four wires is calculated Copyright c 2012 by ASME

3300 3280 Resonance peak [kHz] 3260 3240 3220 32000

Parallel shear resonance f for stray wire


0.020 0.018 Birefrigence (B) 0.016 0.014 0.012

10 20 30 Transducer position [mm]

wire #10 wire #19 wire #37 stray wire


3240 3220 Resonance peak [kHz] 3200 3180 3160 31400

Perpendicular shear resonance f for stray wire



20 30 Transducer position [mm]





20 30 Transducer position [mm]



from previous data and shown in Fig. 11. The stray wire is the only one with stable B value. The variation in birefringence within the other wires is an unacceptable uncertainty from the standpoint of a stress measuring method and must be eliminated. This can be achieved by averaging B over an area big enough to contain some periods of the observed interference from the inner layer. It is clear from Fig. 11 that even in the presence of this interference, each wire shows a very characteristic mean value. Lift-off evaluation The distance or gap between the transducer and the piece under inspection is commonly called lift-off. The concern about the maximum achievable lift-off, which decreases the amplitude of the signal both on excitation and receiving, is directly related to the ability to inspect through the plastic sheath. This experiment evaluates how lift-off attenuates the amplitude of the resonance peak obtained with EMAR. The experimental setup consists of a transducer and a stray 7

wire than can be separated apart using a variable number of plastic sheets. Each plastic sheet is about 1.05 mm thick. Common riser external sheaths range from 7 to 10 mm of polymeric layer. For this experiment the stack of plastic sheets is the only factor of signal attenuation. The experiment has to be performed in several steps due to the wide dynamic range required. It is not possible to leave the receivers amplier with the same gain setting over the entire liftoff range. Instead, pairs of consecutive lift-offs, in number of plastic sheets, share the same amplier settings. The experiment comparing two peak amplitudes provide a signal loss estimation associated with the additional plastic sheet of 1.05 mm. Figure 12 shows one of such experiments, comparing the resonance spectrum for 3 and 4 plastic sheets between transducer and sample. The reduction in signal power is estimated as -8.3 dB from the measured peaks amplitudes. The resonance signal was detected on spectrum up to a total of 9.45 mm of lift-off (9 plastic sheets). This conguration shows a weak resonance peak with a poor signal to noise ratio. When a new plastic sheet was added and ampliers gain increased the resonance could no longer be separated from the noise oor. The total power attenuation of the 9 experiments steps was 64.8 dB, as can be seen in Fig. 13. The attenuation is almost constant in terms of distance to the transducer and its value is about 6.85 dB/mm. The total lift-off of 9.45 mm, plus an additional 0.25 mm to account for the transducers protective tape, is close to the limit reported on the most recent EMAT research studies. Most of the references report practical values which are much lower, such as 2.8 mm [21] and 2.67 mm [22]. The graph shown in Fig. 13 is almost the same as the one obtained in [23] using permanent magnets. Copyright c 2012 by ASME

3.5 3.0 2.5 Amplitude [V] 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 2.805

3.15mm Model =1015 4.20mm Model =957

Amplitude [V] 2.810 2.815 2.820 2.825 Frequency [kHz] 2.830

2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 2775



2790 2795 2800 Frequency [kHz]






0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 2 4 6 Liftoff [mm] 8 10


In spite of these results, there is still room for achieving higher lift-offs. The impedance matching to the transducer can be improved in order to send more power to the coil and the transducers design itself can be optimized to favor the magnetization of the sample even on great lift-offs, which was not the case of the current EMAT transducer. However, inspection of the available exible pipeline through sheath was not possible due to another source of signal attenuation. It was found that a very thin adhesive tape attached to the wires, which can be found in this particular riser construction, greatly attenuates the mechanical shear waves [10]. This is 8

a different kind of attenuation, affecting directly how the ultrasound resonance decays within the wire, not the electromagnetic coupling. Experiments have shown that the adhesive tape can attenuate the peak resonance as much as 30 dB. Considering both sources of attenuation, the signal is almost 100 dB lower that direct wires contact, which seems to be beyond the current technology of power ampliers and EMAT transducers. The proposed alternative is to admit a semi-destructive inspection technique, like the one commonly used hole-drilling method for residual stresses. The semi-destructive EMAR inspection method comprises locally reducing the thickness of the polymer layer to allow the current technology to work. Because the polymer layer is not completely removed, the wires are not exposed to the corrosive environment. The semi-destructive EMAR inspection was tested with the available riser section by locally reducing the external sheath to 5 mm of polymer. With this setup, the resonance spectrum was obtained in spite of the adhesive tape attenuation and an additional 1 mm lift-off due to the Kevlar layers. Figure 14 shows the resonance spectrum from wire 17 obtained through the locally reduced external sheath. The spectrum doesnt seem symmetric as the previous ones but the signal to noise ratio is very good.

Total attenuation [dB]

CONCLUSION The results presented in this paper show the viability of employing the Electromagnetic Acoustic Resonance (EMAR) technique for monitoring the strain in armour wires of exible pipelines. The EMAR technique, differently from pure electromagnetic ones, is based on acoustoelasticity and is therefore robust to coupling and geometrical variations. Copyright c 2012 by ASME

The estimated error of the proposed method is 18.8 MPa with a 95% condence interval, which is comparable to the literature reported tolerances. This is more than the necessary tolerance needed to discriminate between good (loaded) and broken wires with a wide margin. A small dependence on temperature was found, but it can be easily compensated for with an external thermometer. Disregarding the thermal effect is also an option since it would not not undermine the discrimination between good and broken wires. A major limitation of the EMAR technique is the birefringence ambiguity between stress and texture. The huge inter-wire texture variation seems to preclude direct stress estimation, unless this ambiguity could be resolved by other means. This restrains the technique to work only in a differential fashion, i.e., a rst scanning establishes a signature and subsequent measurements would then be compared to the reference signature to evaluate how stresses have changed since the rst scanning. It is also shown that EMAR inspection is possible through the external sheath under some circumstances. For pipeline designs where wires have no adhesive tape bonded, inspection should be possible up to 9-10 mm of polymeric sheath. For designs which include this adhesive tape, given the current technological limitations, inspection may require locally reducing polymeric layer thickness to about 5 mm. Therefore, this method should be considered semi-destructive, even if wires are not exposed to the corrosive environment.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT This work was partially supported by grants from CENPES/Petrobras and ANP (Ag ncia Nacional do Petr leo, G s e o a Natural e Biocombustveis) through research agreements with PUC-Rio University. The authors would like to thank Claudio Camerini and his fellow researchers on CENPES for all support, incentive and thoughtful discussions.

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