The Olympic Torch and Innovation in Energy

February 24, 2018

(Written by Jim Pardo, Michigan State Chairman, Vets4Energy)

The snow at this year’s Olympic Games was made by a company from Michigan. It’s one way to connect to the eleven Michigan athletes competing in four sports representing this great country.   They will participate in one of the most enduring, historic events in the world.

One of the most symbolic icons in the athletic world is the Olympic torch – the vessel that carries the flame representing a worldwide passion for athletics and the means by which the start of the games is recognized.

Over time, the design of the Olympic torch has undergone a fascinating series of innovations, both to its aesthetics, and the technology behind its burning flame. For each Olympic games, a new torch is designed to represent the host city.

At its inception, the torch was not a torch at all, but simply a burning bundle of fennel sticks. Years later the torch upgraded, however slightly, to a cloth wrapped around the end of a baton. Both methods for carrying the ancient Olympic flame were very limited in duration and overall safety.

Since then the flame has been passed via underwater scuba (underwater flare), suspension cable, burning arrow via an Olympic archer’s bow, and for all you science fans – by ionized particles via satellite (1976) and this year it was passed between robots.

The Olympic flame has been to the highest peak on earth (Mt. Everest), under the waves across the Great Barrier Reef, and even traveled into space, twice.

Through its process of development the torch has increasingly become an icon of inspiration – in its emotive, philosophical, and artistic influence, as well as its technical innovation.

The fact is none of this would have been possible without innovations in energy through natural gas and oil. What was impossible years ago – a flame that burns consistently, cleanly, and safely – has now been made possible.

The early fuels used to burn the Olympic torch include olive oil, formaldehyde and ammonia, and naphthalene. These fuel sources, however, proved to be well, dangerous. They were also lacking efficiency and dependability.

The year 1972 saw the first Olympic torch that burned by liquid fuel from an internal pressurized canister. This innovation allowed the flame to remain lit in...

Read entire article at The Peninsula (Michigan).


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