Inventors Light up Olympic Torch Underwater

Published June 26th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A team of experts took more than 25 attempts to devise the chemical formula that will power the Olympic torch during its first underwater journey on Tuesday. 

The inventors of the underwater flare have guaranteed the torch will stay alight when it is taken underwater for the first time in Olympic history on the Great Barrier Reef. 

The modified distress flare inserted into the Olympic torch housing will burn at more than 2,000 degrees Celsius, producing 35,000 candlepower of light. 

A team of chemists and engineers at Melbourne pyrotechnics company Pains Wessex took nine months to perfect the flare. 

Pains Wessex managing director Charles Tegner said designing the torch was a challenge. 

"We had to produce a flare that would burn underwater at a depth of around about four meters and burn for a period of about three minutes, but it also had to look like the Olympic torch flame and it had to be clearly visible," he said. 

"Such flares don't normally exist." 

Olympic authorities also insisted that the torch did not give off any toxic by-products while it was in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 

The design team finally decided to use the highly combustible element magnesium in a finely powdered form to create the flame, -- (AFP) 


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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