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Old 19th February 2020, 04:05 AM   #1
Hungry81
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Can electric E-coli give fossil fuel generators the *****?

Interesting article about bacteria that generate electricity when subjected to humidity. The study states they dont generate conductive filiments fast enough though, so there is a suggestion to introduce the relevant genes to e-coli to make the generation more efficient when trying to scale up. Suggested uses are phone and other battery operated device chargers.
Is this likely a 10-20-infinity years thing or is it feasable in a shortish term?

If they make the paint version, can I cover my arms in it and go around zapping evildoers? Or will I just give myself a shocking case of stomach flu?

https://www.sciencealert.com/scienti...n-humidity/amp

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...Zzy1bV&ampcf=1

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Old 19th February 2020, 04:20 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Hungry81 View Post
Interesting article about bacteria that generate electricity when subjected to humidity. The study states they dont generate conductive filiments fast enough though, so there is a suggestion to introduce the relevant genes to e-coli to make the generation more efficient when trying to scale up. Suggested uses are phone and other battery operated device chargers.
Is this likely a 10-20-infinity years thing or is it feasable in a shortish term?

If they make the paint version, can I cover my arms in it and go around zapping evildoers? Or will I just give myself a shocking case of stomach flu?

https://www.sciencealert.com/scienti...n-humidity/amp

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...Zzy1bV&ampcf=1
One thought I always have when I hear something like this is "Where is the energy coming from?" If that question is not properly addressed it might as well be considered as an over-unity machine.
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Old 19th February 2020, 04:57 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by erlando View Post
One thought I always have when I hear something like this is "Where is the energy coming from?" If that question is not properly addressed it might as well be considered as an over-unity machine.
Yeah, pretty much this. I read the first article and they just say it produces a current when exposed to air. And that that's all that's needed. It seems like a perpetual motion machine to me, and as such, sorry, not real.
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Old 19th February 2020, 05:43 AM   #4
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It's quite feasible, for small devices at least. I have a bio-powered MP3 player. When it plays "Pour Some Sugar on Me" it means it.
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Old 19th February 2020, 06:12 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
It's quite feasible, for small devices at least. I have a bio-powered MP3 player. When it plays "Pour Some Sugar on Me" it means it.
There was no mention in the article I read about any fuel source. It explicitly says it requires only air. If it were feeding on sugars that could work, but it doesn't sound like it.

Also, at least as far as I could tell, the e-coli is used to manufacture the nano-wires. It didn't sound like the e-coli was even meant to be a part of the device. I may have misunderstood that though.
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Old 19th February 2020, 06:27 AM   #6
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There were a number of articles on this on my news feed yesterday, here’s one:

https://phys.org/news/2020-02-green-...-thin-air.html
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Old 19th February 2020, 07:53 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
There were a number of articles on this on my news feed yesterday, hereís one:

https://phys.org/news/2020-02-green-...-thin-air.html
over unity
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Old 19th February 2020, 09:07 AM   #8
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The energy source this is exploiting is the latent heat of humidity in the air.
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Old 19th February 2020, 09:10 AM   #9
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What RY said.
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Old 19th February 2020, 09:17 AM   #10
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Probably pay-walled for most but here is the article from Nature.


https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2010-9
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Old 19th February 2020, 09:22 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Also, at least as far as I could tell, the e-coli is used to manufacture the nano-wires. It didn't sound like the e-coli was even meant to be a part of the device. I may have misunderstood that though.

No misunderstanding, you have that right.
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Old 19th February 2020, 12:44 PM   #12
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Clearly, the energy to generate the charge comes from the folded 11th dimension of the string vibration... or something.

Like others, I'm calling BS on this until I see where that energy comes from
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Old 19th February 2020, 08:56 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
The energy source this is exploiting is the latent heat of humidity in the air.
That's interesting. So when it exploits that energy source there should be some irreversible process that occurs. Do you know what that is? I admit this isn't that clear to me.
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Old 19th February 2020, 11:55 PM   #14
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Apparently it generates power due to a humidity gradient in the thin-film that creates a diffusion of protons in the nano-wires. OK.




How the gradient is sustained I have no idea.
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Old 20th February 2020, 12:19 AM   #15
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So, cheetah, is it clear to you what the irreversible process is that happens here? A change in the state of the humidity gradient perhaps?
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Old 20th February 2020, 01:01 AM   #16
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I can see where the energy comes from. If you turn water vapour into a liquid, energy is released. This energy could be in the form of electricity. Though I do not have a clue on how they can convert this energy into electricity. It would work best with 100% humidity. As a by-product it would produce liquid water.

I predict this will work. The work was done at a good university. Though cannot say anything more.
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Old 20th February 2020, 01:57 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I can see where the energy comes from. If you turn water vapour into a liquid, energy is released. This energy could be in the form of electricity. Though I do not have a clue on how they can convert this energy into electricity. It would work best with 100% humidity. As a by-product it would produce liquid water.

I predict this will work. The work was done at a good university. Though cannot say anything more.
I'm not saying that this cannot work. It may only be the reporting but it doesn't help and smells a bit like an over unity scam when the lead author is quoted saying this:

Quote:
"We are literally making electricity out of thin air," says Yao. "The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7."
Also, it has a name already? A bit early to start the marketing don't you think?
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Old 20th February 2020, 02:09 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I can see where the energy comes from. If you turn water vapour into a liquid, energy is released. This energy could be in the form of electricity. Though I do not have a clue on how they can convert this energy into electricity. It would work best with 100% humidity. As a by-product it would produce liquid water.

I predict this will work. The work was done at a good university. Though cannot say anything more.
So you'll get some sort of condensation I guess? That makes sense.
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Old 20th February 2020, 10:04 AM   #19
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Can't get to the Nature article right now, but it and all the articles said the mechanism was adsorption. I'm presuming that the water has to be removed and replaced. Given the very low power cited here that is a completely adequate source for the energy.

You do need something like five square meters of this stuff to get a single watt. But the material is extremely thin so it can presumably be layered to some degree. But I'm expecting that layering is limited by need to expose the surface area to humidity.
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Old 20th February 2020, 10:37 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
So, cheetah, is it clear to you what the irreversible process is that happens here? A change in the state of the humidity gradient perhaps?
I don't know.
It's not evaporation though, or it doesn't sound like it.
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Old 20th February 2020, 10:39 AM   #21
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Probably this:

Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I can see where the energy comes from. If you turn water vapour into a liquid, energy is released. This energy could be in the form of electricity. Though I do not have a clue on how they can convert this energy into electricity. It would work best with 100% humidity. As a by-product it would produce liquid water.

I predict this will work. The work was done at a good university. Though cannot say anything more.
Something about the electrical properties of the nano-wires causing the 'proton diffusion' in line with the humidity gradient I suppose.
It almost sounds like they don't know.
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Old 20th February 2020, 10:50 AM   #22
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Are people just over-reacting to the unfortunate "thin-air" statement? As far as I can tell every link that includes that statement also goes on to say what the energy source is. The phenomena seems plausible and real. Only unanswered questions is can it scale up in to anything practical. ETA: That's a big one of course.
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Old 20th February 2020, 11:08 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
It almost sounds like they don't know.
Can't tell how serious.

You realize they don't know, right? They say so. They discovered this phenomena rather than designing it from first principles.
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Old 20th February 2020, 07:41 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Are people just over-reacting to the unfortunate "thin-air" statement? As far as I can tell every link that includes that statement also goes on to say what the energy source is. The phenomena seems plausible and real. Only unanswered questions is can it scale up in to anything practical. ETA: That's a big one of course.
Thanks RY. After your first post in this thread I was over my concerns that it was some sort of free energy concept, just trying to understand the mechanism a little better after that, and understand potential constraints (like if it would reach some state where the humidity gradient had leveled out and energy would have to be used to return to the original state?). I admit I don't have good understanding of adsorption.
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Old 20th February 2020, 08:46 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Thanks RY. After your first post in this thread I was over my concerns that it was some sort of free energy concept, just trying to understand the mechanism a little better after that, and understand potential constraints (like if it would reach some state where the humidity gradient had leveled out and energy would have to be used to return to the original state?). I admit I don't have good understanding of adsorption.
While my first post identified the energy source, I currently don't know where the entropy sink is. So I don't know what the full cycle is. Someone suggested this will have the side effect of producing liquid water. I extremely doubt that liquid water is a potential outcome of whatever cycle this is using because turning water vapor in to liquid water requires exporting a huge amount of entropy somewhere. I'm guessing the water leaves the cycle as water vapor probably by migrating to some place where it simply evaporates again.

That would mean the device would be changing the energy/entropy/temperature distribution between water and non-water molecules in the air around it. That would create a "counter" gradient in the air that eventually stops the adsorption process. The entropy sink/recharge mechanism would then be something that removes the high temperature water molecules from the air. (ETA: And re-introduces high temperature non-water molecules)

Not sure I've thought that through properly yet.

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Old 20th February 2020, 09:50 PM   #26
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I think that there is some confusion over the mechanism perhaps some people are confusing aDsorption with aBsorption?

The discoverers knew that nanowire were capable of transmitting electrical current.
They also knew that they could produce protein-based nanowire.

They were jointly working on whether they could replace silicon-based nanowire with protein-based nanowire and whether they would be viable in electronics.
It was while they were testing a device created from protein nanowire that they discovered that protein nanowire was also capable of creating a current when arranged in their device.

The Eureka moment was the realisation that water aDsorption was the mechanism for creating a voltage gradient across the device.

https://www.diffen.com/difference/Ab..._vs_Adsorption
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Old 20th February 2020, 09:56 PM   #27
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What confusion between those two do you see?
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Old 20th February 2020, 10:19 PM   #28
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A number of posts were discussing heat, steam and evaporation etc.
Which is not the mechanism that this “generator” uses.
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Old 20th February 2020, 11:03 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
A number of posts were discussing heat, steam and evaporation etc.
Which is not the mechanism that this ďgeneratorĒ uses.
Exactly, but it is also why I am completely skeptical. I am well aware of the difference between adsorb and absorb. However, this is the thing that has my "overunity scam alert" siren screaming at level 10.

At best it should be a one time effect until all the surfaces are coated. Or until whatever energy source is being used gets used. Then what? What could possibly make this continuous?

I don't want handwaving. I want a detailed explanation backed with repeatable evidence.

What has been posted here on this thread is a long long way from that so far.

Until then I am still going with my first observation... over-unity!
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Old 21st February 2020, 04:59 AM   #30
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I really don’t have any issue with the pints you make - except for “over unity”.

Perhaps these protein nanowire do lose their capacity? More like potato battery perhaps.
I can’t recall them stating a perpetual source of power?
I admit I could have missed it or misunderstood their claims. I felt that their claims for power generation capabilities was very much under tested and still a bit of an unknown quantity?
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Old 24th February 2020, 12:21 AM   #31
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Look, the "overunity" part is what RecoveringYuppy was hinting about. Essentially this thing reverses entropy flow. Whether water goes from liquid to vapor or viceversa, at a given temperature, entropy has to increase. It's the law.

And it doesn't matter if it's in a boiler, or protein chains, or any SF process you can imagine. The total entropy of the universe only goes UP, never down. It's the LAW.

NOW, all life essentially reverses LOCAL entropy flow, so this is not particularly new. It's also not new to reverse entropy flow locally by technology. Your fridge or air conditioner do that. Essentially they make heat flow from cold to hot, and usually yeah, it usually involves something evaporating on the cold side and condensing on the hot side too.

But the keyword is: locally. You have to put some extra energy in, for that to work, so when you look at the larger picture, entropy still goes up. Just basically in a different place than the one where you're interested in lowering it. E.g., your fridge or your air conditioner need to be plugged in, and create more heat on the hot side than they absorbed on the cold side. You can't make an air conditioner that just works on the energy that it extracted from the cold room, without needing some power supply. That would be over-unity.

And you sure as bloody hell can't make one that actually even gives extra electricity from reversing entropy flow. That's taking an already over-unity thing and going even more nuts with it.

The same applies to life. Yes, any life reverses entropy flow to keep the inside of the cell ordered, if nothing else, BUT it needs some kind of energy input to do that. You need fuel and oxidizer, for example, or energy from the sun in photosynthesis, or some other source of energy. And it heats the universe in the process, so basically it still puts out more entropy outside the cell than it removed from the inside.

And that would have to happen here too, if nothing else, to keep those cells alive. Hell, even without knowing anything about thermodynamics, they're cells, right? They need food. They won't live out of just making water condense, much less also give you electricity out of it too.

Which is really what I suspect happens here: yes, some condensation happens as part of that process, and yes you get some electricity, BUT you also have to put some energy in by feeding those cells. The PR press release just seems to skip that last part and make it sound like a bloody miracle. As in, literally miracle, by violating the laws of physics. Once you add in that part where you have to SOMEHOW bring nutrients to those cells, i.e., some energy in, it's a lot less miraculous.
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Old 24th February 2020, 04:34 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Which is really what I suspect happens here: yes, some condensation happens as part of that process, and yes you get some electricity, BUT you also have to put some energy in by feeding those cells. The PR press release just seems to skip that last part and make it sound like a bloody miracle. As in, literally miracle, by violating the laws of physics. Once you add in that part where you have to SOMEHOW bring nutrients to those cells, i.e., some energy in, it's a lot less miraculous.

Except, the process as described doesn't use living metabolizing cells. Just protein filaments ("nanowires") originally formed by cells.
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Old 24th February 2020, 07:18 AM   #33
RecoveringYuppy
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Right, no living cells in the device. The living cells produce the nano-wire which is then used in this device.
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Old 24th February 2020, 10:05 AM   #34
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Ah. Right. Well, there has to be SOME kind of source of energy there, even if just the sun or whatever, otherwise it's over-unity.
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Old 24th February 2020, 10:25 AM   #35
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Latent heat of humidity is fine for the energy source. It's the entropy sink that we don't know. But I don't see not knowing that as a reason to claim over-unity since there are plenty of possibilities for that, especially for the miniscule power density claimed. Some of the claims for what this could scale up to don't add up. Not seeing how painting a house in this could supply any meaningful amount of household energy.
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Old 24th February 2020, 11:08 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Ah. Right. Well, there has to be SOME kind of source of energy there, even if just the sun or whatever, otherwise it's over-unity.

As the process is currently described, yeah, it does look that way. It would be a magical energy source and a magical above-dew-point dehumidifier. It falls into the subcategory of devices that seem feasible in terms of energy in vs. energy out alone, but is impossible with all the laws of thermodynamics in play because it would have to decrease entropy. Like the stillsuits in Dune. I wish there was a special term for that besides just "over-unity."
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Old 25th February 2020, 12:05 AM   #37
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Latent heat of humidity is fine for the energy source. It's the entropy sink that we don't know.
No, I mean you need to put some extra energy in to pump entropy that way. Same as your fridge needs to be plugged in. It can't work only on the energy in the air in the freezer.

Edit: I mean in the same superficial "well, there's some energy in there" way, if I put a 1 litre water bottle in the fridge in the summer, to lower its temperature by, say, 24 degrees Celsius, that's 100 kJ removed from the water or about 28 Wh. If I want to FREEZE it even, to have a phase change like in this example, well, that's another 334kJ removed from the water. That could sound like, well, that's enough to power the freezer and give some electricity even, right? But it doesn't work that way. To pump heat uphill you need to put more heat out the hot side than you removed from the cold side. The fridge needs more energy from somewhere else, e.g., from the mains.

Essentially a dehumidifier isn't all that different from a freezer, even if it doesn't work by actually lowering temperature. I just mean from an abstract thinking point of view. Entropy is pretty much just another way of saying heat, after all.

If humidity is below 100%, which is the same as saying, if your temperature is above dew point, the normal net flow of energy is from the liquid to the air. Energy is removed from, say, the water in your cup by evaporation, and moved into the air as kinetic energy of those particles in the water vapour. Essentially as that energy transfer is concerned, the water in the cup is the hot plate, the dry(ish) air is the cold plate. Any unassisted net energy flow is only in one direction.

Anything proposing to reverse that flow, whether by keeping the water cooler, or by some magical protein chains, won't be able to do it at 100% efficiency. You need some extra energy from SOMEWHERE.
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Last edited by HansMustermann; 25th February 2020 at 12:16 AM.
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Old 25th February 2020, 01:29 AM   #38
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Simple solution to see who is right. Wait a year or three and if it hits the market, it works, if this is the last we hear of it then it was an over unity device. There are lots of applications where a small amount of energy is required in an isolated area.
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Old 25th February 2020, 02:56 AM   #39
HansMustermann
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Yes, well, that much is obvious. It doesn't mean we can't shoot the breeze in the meantime anyway.
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Old 25th February 2020, 07:38 AM   #40
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This device isn't working solely on the energy it already contains nor is seeing if it hits the market a good way to judge if it's over-unity.

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