Historic Brewery Restored With Help of Geopolymer

Historic Pearl Brewery in downtown San AntonioTurning a 119 year old brewhouse into a four-star boutique hotel is no easy task. For the project to be a success, the structure had to literally be raised from it’s grave.

Pearl Brewery operated from 1883 until 2001 in their downtown San Antonio, Texas location. It was once the largest brewery in Texas, and even kept afloat during the Prohibition era. Today the 22- acre Pearl site grounds has become a culinary gathering place where you can eat, live, learn, and play on the banks of the San Antonio River.
Restoring the historic Pearl Brewery in downtown San AntonioLocated in the 119-year-old brewhouse, the newest addition to the Pearl site, will be Hotel Emma. Slated to open in Summer of 2015, the hotel will feature 146 rooms as well as a restaurant, bar, catering, and in-room dining service. The hotel will embrace the extravagance of the iconic 19th century brew house and seeks to keep as much of the structure’s original features as possible. The hotel received it’s name in honor of the wife of the Pearl Brewery founder, Otto Koehler. His wife Emma is credited for keeping the brewery alive during Prohibition after her husband had passed away.

Renovating the original building would be no easy task for the developer. The goal is to connect the hotel to the structure’s historical past, while still feeling modern and grand.

The Challenge

Sunken slab and intricate wall tiling at the Pearl BreweryWith structures this old, foundation settlement is very common and usually expected. In what was previously known as the brewmasters office, the concrete foundation had settled over 5 inches. The project’s structural engineer needed a solution to remediate the settlement, all while keeping the slab intact and causing as little disruption to the original floor and wall tile as possible.

The Solution

URETEK ICR was contacted to assist with leveling the future hotel’s foundation back to it’s proper elevation and help preserve the room’s original features as much as possible. To do this, URETEK ICR team members utilized The URETEK Method® as it is ideal for raising sunken concrete, by drilling a penny sized injection hole into the slab, and filling the voids underneath with an organic geopolymer that lifts the settling concrete slab.

The Results

Pearl Brewery skyline as redevelopment is under constructionURETEK ICR was able to successfully lift the foundation back to it’s original elevation. Only nine penny size holes were drilled into the floor’s tile at various points, so as to keep the floor intact as much as possible.The construction company followed up with a tile restoration company to fill in the small holes that were drilled, and the room once again felt like it did in 1883. The future home of Hotel Emma was properly stabilized with URETEK’s patented structural geopolymer and executed by their professional crew members.URETEK ICR’s repair process was quick, clean, caused little disruption, and most importantly… helped to keep the historical former brewery in it’s original state. Who wouldn’t drink to that!

Download Case Study PDF courtesy of URETEK ICR

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Pond Embankment Stabilization with Geopolymer Injection

An effluent pond in Southeast Texas was suffering from years of erosion. Recently, an escalation of subsurface water seepage through the pond’s embankment threatened the community’s main water source.
URETEK's injectable polyurethane barrier

Project History

Quail Valley is a residential community located in Missouri City, Texas. The small community is filled with ponds and flowing creeks. An effluent pond in Quail Valley was suffering from soil erosion at its east bank. Erosion control at the pond had been an ongoing struggle and concern for the Missouri City officials and the Public Works Department. The pond is part of the Quail Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant, and through wastewater reclamation, the pond is used to water nearby fairways at the city-owned Quail Valley Golf Course.

The Challenge

Over time, the pond bank’s minor erosion issues escalated to the extent that water was traveling through the bank’s subsurface soil, entering Stafford Run Creek more than 10 feet east of the pond.  Standing atop the bank, an individual could see where water was flowing from the pond to the creek.  The pond was slowly draining into the creek through the east bank, while, simultaneously eroding and weakening the bank soils. If the problem continued unaddressed the city could lose its watering source for golf course fairways and the weak bank could potentially collapse, damming Stafford Run Creek.

Geopolymer injection to sto seepageIn 2010, a portion of the troublesome pond bank was mudjacked with cementitious slurry in an attempt to stabilize bank soils and cut-off water migration.  Unfortunately, the solution was only temporary.  Bank soils continued to erode and water continued migrating into Stafford Run Creek. As needed, rip-rap was brought in to fill-out and improve structural integrity at the degrading bank. The effluent pond lies within sight of golfers at Quail Valley Golf Course, as a result, in 2013, while golfing, Missouri City mayor, Allen Owen, noticed that the pond was extremely low. He immediately notified Public Works Department employees. Soon afterwards, the east bank had a major blowout due to heavy rains. It was decided that a permanent solution was needed to stop erosion and water migration.

Working off a 2012 geotechnical study of the pond bank, companies began submitting solutions. One engineering company presented a solution that was expected to cost upwards of $1 million. In the end, the city awarded the contract to URETEK ICR Gulf Coast, a specialized groundwork contractor that uses geopolymer injection methods. URETEK proposed an economical solution that would stop water migration and stabilize bank soils with minimal site work. They intended to create an underground curtain inside the bank by utilizing a polymeric compaction grouting method. The underground curtain would travel along a large portion of the east and south bank. It is designed to stop migrating water, cut-off potential migration routes and provide much needed structural support to the pond bank.

The Solution

The project was proposed and designed by URETEK’s Blake Grappe, project and sales manager. Grappe planned on using a method similar to mudjacking, but instead of using cementitious slurry, they would be using their patented geopolymer and they’d be injecting it deeper into the bank. URETEK’s geopolymer, also known as polyurethane foam, is a two-part poly that, when mixed, expands into a high-density, structural grade foam capable of lifting and supporting multi-tonnage. Another important characteristic to stopping water migration is its closed-cell makeup and hydro-insensitivity. The geopolymer’s closed-cell makeup will allow it to expand and cure in the presence of water and its hydro-insensitivity will allow it to repel water and maintain structure in heavily saturated conditions.

Geopolymer injection to sto seepageSoon after Missouri City accepted the proposal, URETEK technicians mobilized to make bank repairs. To create the underground curtain, a series of linear holes were drilled every five feet along the east and south pond bank.

The holes are injection sites for the geopolymer. Starting at -20 feet, URETEK technicians began injecting geopolymer to depth, where it expands. As the geopolymer expands, it compresses loose soils, fills subsurface voids, fissures and bonds with surrounding soils. Technicians watch for visual cues like outcropping or soil movement. These signs demonstrate positive results.

After injecting at -20 feet, technicians inject at -15 feet, then -10 feet and finally -5 feet. Technicians then move to an adjacent hole and repeat the injection process, creating a water-tight underground curtain one section at a time. At an especially weak section of the east bank where migrating water had heavily eroded the bank, three rows of underground curtains were created for extra reinforcement.

The Results

By the end, URETEK injected geopolymer at more than 100 injection sites,successfully creating a 500 foot underground curtain along the east and south pond bank.  All water migration ceased and the effluent pond was contained. Pond bank repairs allowed the city to continue using its reservoir to water golf course fairways.  “I’ve used geopolymer in similar ways for past projects and had great success,” said Grappe. “I had no concerns whether or not it would work.  Our geopolymer is a versitile tool that can be applied in many applications.”

Project of the Year

URETEK ICR Gulf Coast's Blake Grappe receiving the Project of the Year Awrd from the TPWA

URETEK ICR Gulf Coast’s efforts were recognized by the American Public Works Association’s Texas Chapter for Project of the Year Award– (less than $2 Million) at the TPWA’s 2014 Annual Conference’s Reception and Awards Banquet in Galveston, TX on June 19, 2014.

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One-pass trencher installs slurry wall through hard soils

The DeWind one-pass trenching machine

EI Paso Energy Company purchased a site for their new facility, which was an old pre-World War II munitions factory. It had a significant groundwater contamination problem which demanded immediate attention before any development could be started.

The environmental engineering company hired to investigate and propose a solution decided to completely contain the pollution before a remediation solution was implemented. The most cost-effective and reputable solution for containment was the installation of a soil/bentonite slurry wall around the entire site. This would extend deep enough to key into a clay confining layer, between 47 and 65 feet below grade, to contain the contaminants.

However, preliminary test borings showed extremely hard soil conditions, including a 20 foot thick layer needing up to 100 blows per inch near the bottom of the proposed wall. This was much too hard for conventional installation equipment alone. Additional methods would have to be used to break up the hard layer, adding to the cost.

A new employee had recently overseen the installation of a DeWind OnePass Trenching Company soil/bentonite wall for another company. A unique technology was brought in that mixed the slurry wall in place using a large chain saw-like trencher. He said the wall was installed quickly, surgically and exceeded post permeability testing requirements.

De Wind personnel flew out to the job site to evaluate the overall project parameters. Some of the formidable construction challenges were wetlands crossings, buried rubble, marl layers soaked with dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL), with Level C or B site construction conditions, and, of particular interest, a dense soil strata. This extended, on average, from 25 feet below grade to weathered rock, or saprolite 65 feet below grade, with blow counts of 100 per one inch. Installation of the 7,600 linear feet of soil/bentonite wall was completed in two months and it passed all post-permeability testing.

About DeWind One-Pass Trenching

DeWind One-Pass Trenching is the Leader in Deep Trenching Technology. Our technology allows us to install groundwater control/remedial systems underground, under the water table and IN A SINGLE PASS without the need to pump, treat, shore, or dig mass excavations. You will not find these one-of-a-kind machines anywhere else. DeWind designs, builds, and operates these Deep One-Pass Trenchers that can achieve installation rates of hundreds of feet per day. We have been in business 25+ years and work all over North America.


  • In-situ mixed slurry walls up to 75+ feet deep
  • Groundwater/product recovery trenches up to 40+ feet deep
  • PRB walls up to 40+ feet deep

You can find more information including: Installation options, capabilities, pictures, and even animated videos at www.dewindonepasstrenching.com

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Solid Foundation for Grain Storage

Solid Foundation for Grain Storage

URETEK ICR was contacted regarding settlement in two identical 1.5 million bushel grain flat storage buildings.   The overall structure dimensions were 600 ft. long by 135 ft. wide with a Quonset style roof . Below the floor of the storage buildings, a tunnel with conveyance system and a series of aeration tunnels were installed to facilitate moisture control and grain transport. 


There were two areas of concern, 1) the area between the centralized conveyance tunnel and 2) the aeration tunnels.  Specifically a 12 ft. wide by 600 ft. long  section on either side of the tunnel had settled and cracked. All slabs were 8 in. thick reinforced 3,000 psi concrete.


Location: South Dakota

Problem: Settled & Cracked Floor Slabs Due to Weight and Traffic Patterns

Date of Project: Spring 2012

Project Information: 600’ x 135’ Storage Building Floor Stabilization/Lifting.

During construction of the facilities, both structures experienced a major rain event and an accumulation of snow prior to installation of the roof system. It is thought that the runoff from both events seeped through the joints where the tunnels and slabs meet causing erosion along the exterior of the tunnels and saturating sub-soils.

Over the course of the first 1.5 years of  service, both facilities experienced settlement to varying degrees. The Roscoe location had settlement averaging 1.5 inches and with a maximum of 3 inches while the Andover location did not exceed an average of .75 of an inch.

 Drilling revealed that soils at the Roscoe location were highly saturated while the Andover location presented as only slightly above normal soil moisture content.


Proposed Solution:


Due to time constraints, only small windows were available to perform work at both locations. The facilities are run year round repairs had to be made during a scheduled outage window.

Section of Sinking Floor (-2 5/8?)

The Roscoe location was the first to be repaired. The URETEK ICR – Northern US crew met the tight schedule, averaging over 2,000 square feet per day. The facility had a small quantity of soy beans in one half of the facility while the crew was on site. Once one half of the floor had been lifted, beans were transferred to the completed area so work could continue on the other half of the floor.

Elevated View: Storage Floor

Elevated Viewpoint of Grain Floor Settlement


Once the Roscoe facility was repaired, the URETEK ICR – Northern US crew moved to the Andover site.  The Andover work was completed in five days with URETEK ICR – Northern US lifting and stabilizing approximately 3,000 square ft. per day.

Both facilities were back online immediately after the areas were completed. Andover began refilling the storage building within three hours of the departure of the URETEK ICR Northern US crew.

Due to the presence of high moisture content in the soils, coupled with the as designed use of the facility, URETEK 486STAR material was chosen for the project. URETEK’s solution is often referred to as an alternative to mudjacking.  However, with the advancement in technology and injection equipment, along with a vastly improved and completely different material, URETEK is simply an evolution of the mudjacking concept.  The patented geo-polymer’s unique ability to perform well in high moisture and saturated soil environments, its ability to lift, and withstand higher ‘as designed’ loads made it an ideal choice for both locations.

Lastly, soil testing done prior to construction showed no specific soil anomalies at depth at either site.  Therefore the industry leading URETEK Method® was employed for lifting and stabilization of the affected area.

Overall, only three days at each site were projected for project completion.

Project Summary:

URETEK ICR – Northern US was able to stabilize, lift and return to service 28,800 square feet of storage facility in a matter of a few days, at each site, meeting the customer’s need for speed and efficiency.  URETEK ICR Northern US was also able to meet the ‘as designed’ usage load requirement averaging 1,037 lbs. per square foot constant at each location. URETEK ICR Northern US counts this as a successful project.  This is due to these factors:

Factors for Success

  • The project was completed within the tight timeline and budget.
  • The use of the URETEK Method® process was able to successfully lift and stabilize all affected areas,, as designed.
  • The URETEK 486star material overcame highly water-saturated soil conditions, delivering the desired results without compromise.
  • The customer now knows of a fast and cost effective solution to settled grain storage facilities.


URETEK ICR Northern US repair solution allowed the grain storage facility to quickly and effectively take care of the problem, restore original design capability, and all the while continuing production without interruption.  The customer and facility are better able to handle the high-volume load and capacities required of their customers without any hesitation around the floor’s ability to support the loads.

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High Octane Solution Solves Raceway Dips

High Octane Solution Solves Raceway Dips

The modern race car being driven on the professional circuit today is an aerodynamic wonder. With mere inches of ground clearance, the car is designed to utilize airflow over the body of the car to force the tires down firmly against the pavement, maximizing traction. The objective, of course, is to safely maximize speed.

Professional race car drivers criticized Texas Motor Speedway regarding“bumps” in the 1.5-mile track between turns one and two. They said that these bumps limited them from running “multiple grooves” on the track (the “side-by-side” racing that NASCAR fans crave) and made it difficult to control cars coming out of turn one.

Texas Motor Speedway responded to this criticism immediately, engaging surveyors to shoot elevations across the track to detect any track deficiencies. It was determined that the unlevel areas were not “bumps”; to the contrary, the problem was, in fact, areas of settlement, dubbed “Dale’s Dips” by the press.

Understanding the design of the track structure helps to understand the nature of the problem. The banked turns of the 60-foot wide Texas Motor Speedway sit at a 23-degree angle; therefore, there is a considerable amount of fill material under the upper portions of the track. In these turns, the construction design includes 4 inches of asphalt laid over 12 inches of concrete, which sits atop an approximately 9- inch thick concrete “drainage mat.” Because this is a heavy structure, it is imperative that the fill materials supporting the track be properly compacted. Further complicating the construction of the track are large access tunnels under each turn that provide infield access to the NASCAR racing teams and fans. Due to inadequate compaction of the fill materials around these tunnels, the track had settled slightly on both sides of the tunnel. The degree of settlement was so slight that it would not have been detected if it had occurred on a city street, but given the aerodynamics of a race car, it was an issue to some NASCAR drivers.

URETEK ICR was selected to make the track repairs for several reasons. First, it was absolutely imperative that the track be lifted accurately; an “overlift” in any area would have severely negative consequences for track officials. Second, the ideal solution must add longevity and sustain rigorous track use for the future. Third, the repair process needed to be completed in a timely manner, as the Speedway hosts training and special event racing almost every week of the year. Finally, the repairs could not compromise the racing surface, which is meticulously maintained to optimize traction.

The three-day repair process required URETEK ICR to drill 5/8-inch holes in the track into which copper tubes were driven in order to precisely inject URETEK’s proprietary formulation of structural grade geo-polymer at the proper depth. The rapid expansion of the material allowed for precise, incremental lifting of the track. The ICR team worked in conjunction with a team of surveyors, constantly monitoring

the lifting process and measuring results within hundredths of an inch. The entire lifting process was completed within three days and received high praise from Dale, Jr., and other NASCAR drivers competing in the April Samsung 500 Race.

After project completion, URETEK made national headlines for the unique repair process.

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Stabilizing Wind Energy

Generic wind turbine photo

Recently, URETEK ICR was asked to review a project involving lifting and stabilization of 10 precast transformer pads at a wind farm located in South Dakota.

The pads had settled to varying degrees with 8 of the 10 having settled 1 (±0.5) inch and requiring only stabilization and the two remaining, with settlement in excess of 3.5 inches, requiring lift and stabilization.


Location: South Dakota Wind Energy Farm

Problem: Settled Transformer Pads at Base of Turbines

Project Considerations: Transformers + Pads, Weight = 29,000 lbs. ea.

All the transformers were mounted on individual 15 ft. x 8.5 ft. x 8 in. thick precast pads which were partially supported on precast cabling vaults and lean concrete structural support on the unloaded side of the pad and compacted earth on the loaded side. The settlement to the loaded side of the transformers caused the pad to tip on the inside edge of the concrete vault.

Settlement had occurred within one and a half years of installation and was determined to be due to combination of factors including insufficient compaction surrounding the transformer pad location and freeze thaw cycles.

Voids were present in varying degrees under all of the slabs.

Concerns about how to return the two worst transformers to level, coupled with questions about material containment in the target area and mechanical stresses on the precast transformer pad were addressed and described under Proposed Solution.


URETEK ICR proposed two solutions. The first addressed stabilization of soils below each of the transformer pads. The second ensured a sure, steady, and complete lift of the two worst pads to level, coupled with void fill and soil stabilization.

The eight pads which had settled <1.5 inches were slated to have URETEK DEEP INJECTION® work performed with the goal of stabilization of sub soils to prevent future settlement. Although lifting back as close to original grade was a goal, it was not specified as the ability of the soils to keep the material contained could not be determined prior to application.

  • A single depth injection was performed at 4 locations parallel to and approximately one foot from the settled edge of the pad.
  • A secondary injection was performed by angling the URETEK DEEP INJECTION® probes at an approximate 45? angle, placing the injection point under the transformer pad.

It was determined prior to submission of the proposed solution that the precast transformer pads were capable of bearing the weight of the transformer while under lifting stresses from the outside unsupported edge of the pad. Therefore mechanical lifting options were incorporated, in the two worst cases, to provide a an assisted lift assuring that material containment issues were alleviated.

  • Four 20 ton mechanical lifting devices were dug in and spaced along the settled side of the pad with load distribution taken into consideration.
  • Lifting surfaces were covered with wood to prevent direct contact with the pads.
  • The mechanical lifting system easily lifting the slab to within 1 inch of desired grade.
  • Pads were chocked and the lifting devices un-weighted to ensure the slab would remain at desired grade during void filling operations. Upon verification of stability, closed cell expanding polymer material was injected into the void space below the pad and allowed to set.
  • Finally, all chocks were removed and URETEK DEEP INJECTION® process was used as described above.

Three days were allotted for project completion.


Day One

URETEK ICR personnel arrived on site after completing required site specific safety training and began the project. At the start, URETEK ICR worked with the customer to locate high-voltage power lines to ensure no accidental drilling into and/or through underground cabling. URETEK ICR also completed the insertion of required injection tubes in the specified pattern and depth – to ensure adequate soil densification and material containment. During injection of the first pad, material containment was superb. Although small amounts of material did make it to the surface, it was within scope and didn’t present any environmental or personnel hazard. Each pad was brought back to level. By the end of the first day, two pads had been leveled and all injection probes driven around four additional pads in preparation for the second day’s work.

Day Two

The URETEK ICR crew staged the first of the two mechanical lifts. Hydraulic equipment was installed and hooked up in less than 30 minutes. The mechanical lifting was accomplished in under one minute and within 30 minutes the pad had been void filled and stabilized to approximately one inch below desired grade. URETEK Deep Injection® completed the soil stabilization using the same probe pattern as was performed on day one. The URETEK Deep Injection® process also lifted the surrounding soils which, in turn, returned the pad to desired grade in under two hours. The second of the two mechanical lifts was performed in the same manner and with equal success. Three additional pads were stabilized, void filled, and returned to desired grade for a total of five on Day Two. At the end of day two, a total of seven pads had been lifted and stabilized.

Day Three

The three remaining pads were lifted to desired grade on Day Three achieving the anticipated project completion window and exceeding the project expectation of soil stabilization only by successfully returning all pads back to desired grade and remaining within budget estimates set forth for each transformer pad.


URETEK ICR counts this as a successful project. This is due to these factors:

  1. The project was completed within the tight timeline and budget – with no surprises! (This project required 3 days)
  2. The use of the URETEK Deep Injection® process was able to successfully lift and stabilize all 10 transformer pads, exceeding the original customer requirement
  3. The customer now knows of a fast and cost effective solution to settled transformer pads.


URETEK ICR’s repair strategy cost substantially less and took substantially less time than other considered repair methods. Our crews were able to the project in low (10 degrees) temperatures, when the customer needed it done, thereby maximizing the productivity of the wind farm and reduce any future transformer maintenance or repair costs. And, because our materials are environmentally friendly (NSF 61 Certified) the repair will not contribute to any future ground or water contamination issues.


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  • Personnel Training/Certification


  • 85,000+ Successful Projects
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  • Most Patents. Period.
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About the Author

Mr. Ty Taylor is the Vice President of Marketing at Uretek ICR, which specializes in concrete lifting and soil stabilization in the industrial, commercial and residential markets with their patened Polymer technology.

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Ever get that sinkhole feeling?

Ever Get that Sinkhole Feeling?

It takes planning and good leadership to decide on an effective solution to problems associated with a building asset. Recently, a large wholesale warehouse facility in Cincinnati began to experience large sinkholes across a significant portion of their customer parking lot. Unable to determine the problem at that time, store management was forced to close a portion of the parking lot, inconveniencing their customers. This particular parking lot is unusual in that a drainage system is located directly under the parking lot, consisting of a network of pipes spanning 250 feet in length and 12” in diameter. Joint separations in the underground drainage piping had caused enough soil erosion to create sinkholes in the asphalt. Engineers were concerned that other unknown sinkholes could cave in anytime, resulting in further costly damage, and potentially posing safety hazards to customers.

Needing to accurately identify the location of the voids and weak soils, URETEK utilized a ground penetrating radar system. As a quality control measure, URETEK also used a dynamic cone penetrometer to confirm the findings and establish the depth of the problem. A visual can be seen (see picture to the right) of actual soil seepage into one of the 12’ diameter pipes that caused the sinkholes. The assessment of the situation indicated 17,000 square feet of the parking lot required stabilization and/or sealing of underground joints.

After gathering all possible data collected by URETEK and the GPR contractor, a solution was designed and approved by the customer. URETEK first sealed 26 separated joints identified in the detention basin system. Many joints required sealing the entire circumference of the joint. URETEK used small, 5/8 inch injection holes drilled from the inside of the pipe to the soil surrounding pipe to deploy the patented, moisture resistive , structural grade polymer. The polymer, which has an expansion ratio of 20:1.0, effectively sealed the pipe while also stabilizing the eroding soil around the pipe (see below). Secondly, URETEK stabilized the base soils beneath the parking lot using a grid pattern for injection. The injection probes used were placed 3.5’ into the soil to inject the weak strata shown by the GPR unit. This effectively increased the load bearing capacity of the soil to support customer traffic and delivery trucks. The total project was completed in six days with three of those days dedicated to surface work. Downtime was kept to a minimum and the customer was very pleased with the results which included a fully functional underground drainage system. URETEK was ultimately chosen as the ideal solution due to the minimal disruption to customer traffic, the speed at which the solution could be implemented, and the cost effectiveness of the overall solution.

About the Author

Mr. Ty Taylor is the Vice President of Marketing at Uretek ICR, which specializes in concrete lifting and soil stabilization in the industrial, commercial and residential markets with their patened Polymer technology.

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