Going for Olympic Gold
From the Plain of Olympia in Greece to the Vatican and on to Turin, the Olympic torch has carried the sacred flame several thousand miles to light the cauldron during the opening ceremonies Feb. 10. The sacred flame has remained lit since it left Olympia on Dec. 8, courtesy of a custom-made regulator and valve designed and produced by Cavagna Group (Brescia, Italy).
One of the most recognizable symbols of the Olympics. the torch will have been carried by more than 500 runners, including famous Italian athletes as well as Joe Torre, the New York Yankees manager, who participated in the torch route Dec. 14 during Italian American Day. Torres run in Rome ended at the foot of the famous Pointe Vecchio bridge.
Cavagna was contacted in early 2005 by the famous Italian design firm Pinifarina. which designs Ferraris, to participate in the development of the torch combustion system. The manufacturer presented a new and exclusive combustion system to Pinifarina by May 2005 and production began a short time later.
Pinifarinas torch design features a slightly curved aluminum alloy body with a special coating that is resistant to high heat. The 770-mm tall torch weighs 1.9 kg. The design firm said the sleek, curved torch was inspired by the legendary Olympic torch.
It was Cavagnas job to make sure the flames would be visible to media and viewers along the route no matter what the weather was. The flame had to resist wind speeds of up to 75 mpg and it had to stay lit 15 to 25 minutes for each relay leg depending on the altitudefrom sea level to the peaks of the Italian Alpsand in temperatures ranging from -2ft°C to +25°C.
The valve and regulator were designed to mount on the top of a small cylinder that would be concealed inside the torch body. Among the challenges Cavagna faced, reported Rino Cavagna, sales director (shown below), was to make the assembly as light as possible and to make sure the flame produced from the 60% butane/40% propylene mix created an orange-yellow flame for optimal visibility and better video reproduction.
According to Cavagna, one dilemma was to develop a valve regulator system that would allow a strong flame resistant to winds to last at least 15 to 20 minutes. Special materials were used to make the assembly extremely light in weight.
The Olympic Torch Committee ordered 12,000 torches, all marked with serial numbers. Runners will be allowed to purchase their torch. Cavagna assembled the regulators in an ISO 8 Clean Room at one of its Italian plants that manufactures products for its high-pressure division.
This was Cavagnas second time making the valve regulator system for an Olympic Torch. It was first asked to participate in the design and production of the torch for the 1948 Olympics held in London.
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