Propane lights up the Tokyo Games, as hydrogen makes it Olympic debut

July 23, 2021

On July 23, after a lavish show, the parade of athletes, and a bevy of speeches, the Tokyo Games’ opening ceremony will climax with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

And so will begin propane’s fortnight in the spotlight. Symbolizing the spirit of the competition, the cauldron continues to burn for the duration of the Olympics—a tradition that began with the 1928 games in Amsterdam—and then is also lit for the Paralympic Games that follow.

The fuel used to sustain the flame is typically natural gas or LPG. The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will use propane, spokeswoman Yumiko Takeshita told S&P Global Platts.

The fuel is being provided by Japanese LPG supplier ENEOS GLOBE Corp., but Takeshita declined to say how much propane had been procured, nor the cost.

Bruce Swiecicki, a senior technical advisor with the US National Propane Gas Association, said a cauldron of Olympic size can be expected to consume roughly 11 gallons (41.6 liters) of propane per hour, which comes out to about 4,200 gallons (16,000 liters) over the 16 days it will be lit for the summer games. However, he added the caveat that cauldron designs vary greatly and the specs of the one built for Tokyo are not publicly known.

In a first for the Olympics, these games will also use hydrogen generated from solar power to supplement some of the propane burned in both the flame relay torches and the cauldron, Takeshita said, though she again did not disclose any quantities or cost.

Use of the alternative fuel “is one of a variety of initiatives that we hope will serve as a springboard to increase the demand for hydrogen energy and help create a full-fledged, hydrogen-based economy,” Takeshita said.

Read more here.

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