The Olympic torch is a tradition as old as the first Olympics. In ancient Greece, fire held a sacred place in society as it was thought to be a gift to the human race, stolen from the gods. The first torch relays were held as religious ceremonies, but over time they morphed into a team athletic event.
The Olympic torch still plays a major ceremonial role in the modern Olympics. Each year the home country is expected to design a new torch that represents local tradition and national identity. This year Canada went a step further and designed a fuel-efficient, green torch for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Montreal-based plane and train manufacturer Bombardier designed this year’s torch for the Winter Olympics. The torch is made from recyclable materials such as steel and aluminum, and 95 percent of the materials were sourced locally within Canada. The torch also uses a fuel that is lighter on the environment. Traditionally, an oil-based fuel would be used for cold weather climates, but Bombardier chose a mix of propane and isobutane fuel that will still burn in cold weather but will emit 30 percent fewer greenhouse gases than the traditional fuel.
Bombardier also designed the torch for fuel efficiency. The flame burns from the side of the torch, instead of from the top, which creates a larger flame effect but consumes less energy.