"Light the Fire Within," the theme for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, may have had special meaning for some thermal processing engineers. When the torch relay reached Salt Lake City's Rice-Eccles Stadium for the February 8 opening ceremonies, and members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team touched the torch to the base of the 130' tower holding the triangular glass Olympic cauldron, flames shot up through tumbling water to light the winter sky for miles. You -- the process engineer -- probably questioned the mechanics inside while those around you marveled at the sculpture's outer beauty.

Jim Doyle, director of technical resources at WetDesign, Universal City, Calif., the company that designed the sculpture, is not at liberty to discuss how the torch lit the caldron, but he did explain some of its inner workings.

"Mechanically, it's a forced air can burner, except that the can is glass, not metal. Gas is injected in the bottom via a laminar riser, and just enough combustion air is provided to maintain stability," he says.

He explains that the remaining combustion air is randomly pulled in from above by the natural draft of the flame. Cooling water is provided to keep the stainless structure temperature stable and to keep the glass clean. The glass itself does not require cooling.

WetDesign designed the proprietary burner. Honey-well, Golden Valley, Minn., provided the 7800 Series back panel mount flame switch and UV Mini Peeps sensor, which are parts of the burner assembly.