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Within the quantum affine algebra representation theory we construct linear covariant operators that generate the Askey-Wilson algebra. It has the property of a coideal subalgebra, which can be interpreted as the boundary symmetry algebra of a model with quantum affine symmetry in the bulk. The generators of the Askey-Wilson algebra are implemented to construct an operator valued K- matrix, a solution of a spectral dependent reflection equation. We consider the open driven diffusive system where the Askey-Wilson algebra arises as a boundary symmetry and can be used for an exact solution of the model in the stationary state. We discuss the possibility of a solution beyond the stationary state on the basis of the proposed relation of the Askey-Wilson algebra to the reflection equation. PACS numbers 02.30.Ik, 11.30.Na, 05.50.+k, 05.70.Ln

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