Fuel accounts for an average of seventy percent of the yearly operational and maintenance costs of all the fossil stations in the United States. This amounts to 30 billion dollars spent for fuel each year. In addition, federal and state environmental codes have been enforcing stricter regulations that demand cleaner environments, such as the reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are a by-product of the fossil fuel flame. If the burn of the flame inside a boiler could be optimized, the usage of fuel and the amounts of pollution produced would be significantly reduced, and many of the common boiler tube failures can be avoided. This would result in a major dollar savings to the utility industry, and would provide a cleaner environment. Accomplishing these goals will require a major effort from the designers and operators that manufacture, operate, and maintain the fossil stations. Over the past few years re-designed burners have been installed in many boilers to help control the temperatures and shape of the flame for better performance and NOx reduction. However, the measurement of the processes and components inside the furnace, that could assist in determining the desired conditions, can at times be very difficult due to the hostile hot environment. In an attempt to resolve these problems, the EPRI M&D Center and a core group of EPRI member utilities have undertaken a two-year project with various optical manufacturers, IR manufacturers, and IR specialists, to fully develop an optical lens that will withstand the high furnace temperatures. The purpose of the lens is to explore the possibilities of making accurate high temperature measurements of the furnace processes and components in an ever-changing harsh environment. This paper provides an introduction to EPRI's internal boiler investigation using an IR high temperature lens (HTL). The paper describes the objectives, approach, benefits, and project progress.