Olympic torch burns bright all thanks to rocket science

April 10th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by admin  

National Geographic

Washington, April 10 (ANI): Though the Olympic torch has gone through unprecedented abuse by protestors this year, its flame is still burning bright, all thanks to a new burning system, which is in a sense, rocket science.

According to a report in National Geographic News, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation have designed the new torchs fuel and combustion system.

For a change, the flame is fueled entirely by propane, which marks a departure from its predecessors.

While the 2000 Sydney Olympics torch burned a propane-butane mix, Athenss torch in 2004 was run on propylene and butane, which produced a bit more soot but increased the flames brightness.

If the 2008 torchs fuel truly is propane, then I would expect that the flame wouldnt be quite as bright as Athens and Sydney, said engineer Richard Kelso.

But, this years torch boasts a flame that can withstand winds of up to 40 miles an hour (65 kilometers an hour), nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain an hour, and temperatures of minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius).

What this is indicative of is the fact that the fuel system used to light up the Olympic torch is gradually moving towards the system used to fire up rockets.

Comparing modern Olympic torch technology and rocket design, engineer Richard Kelso said, Both areas are very complex. And they require knowledge of combustion, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, aerodynamics, materials science, and also manufacturing.

About a decade ago, torches were equipped with pilot lights that relit the larger, more photogenic flame when it blew out. Most of the torches have been lit in a similar way ever since.

According to Kelso, in the last two Summer Olympics, sudden gusts of wind and mishandling by relay runners caused the most flameouts.

This year, the most common causes of extinguished torches could be anti-Chinese-government protesters. Recently, officials in Paris put out the torch three times due to interruptions by activists.

But, the presence of backup flamesall derived from the flame used to light the first 2008 torch at ancient Olympia in Greece, has made it possible for the flame to burn bright despite of adverse circumstances.

The insurance flames are kept lit in miners lanternsat least one of which travels with the relay at all times.

If the flame has to fly, it travels in these lanterns, which keep it contained and therefore comply with no-open-flame rules for airplanes.

No matter how large the relay gets, or how exotic its route becomes, the flame at the start is the flame you get burning in the Olympic cauldron at the end, said Kelso. (ANI)

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in National |