Bloodhound - The first 1,000 mile an hour car

Published: 17 Oct 2012

The Bloodhound SSC is a jet and rocket-powered car designed not just to go faster than the current land speed record (763.035 mph), or faster than the speed of sound (768 mph), but to be the first land-based vehicle to achieve a speed of 1,000 mph or over 1,600 kph!

To achieve that, it has to be something special and obviously it is. Look at Bloodhound and you see a jet aircraft without wings, defined as a car by its four wheels, but after that any comparison with the average saloon is impossible.

Just under 13.5 metres long and weighing in at 7,786 kilograms when fuelled, Bloodhound produces a massive 135,000 hp, six times greater than all of this season’s Formula 1 cars can muster between them on the starting grid.

To achieve such impressive statistics, Bloodhound mixes car and aircraft technology. Structurally, the front consists of a carbon fibre monocoque, just like an F1 car, giving the driver extra protection, but also an efficient way to form the complex aerodynamic curvatures.

Behind this is a titanium upper chassis of ‘rib and stringer’ construction, as used in the aerospace industry, over which are laid titanium panels. A lower section, made of aluminium frames and bulkheads, is skinned with steel.

Each solid wheel is forged aluminium and will weigh 95 kilograms, made using low-risk techniques to ensure there are no problems as they turn at 10,000 rpm and subject the wheel rim to 50,000G.

But if Bloodhound is to reach its target speed, then it’s largely reliant on a EUROJET EJ200 turbofan engine to send it down the 12 mile (19km) track and hit 1,000 mph in just 42 seconds.

However, incorporating the EJ200 into Bloodhound’s body is one of the project’s greatest challenges.

Normally more at home in a Eurofighter Typhoon, the EJ200 is an exceptionally sophisticated piece of technology, managed by equally sophisticated engine control and health monitoring systems that are in constant conversation with the engine. Convincing the control systems that they’re happy for the engine to be travelling at just four inches above the ground is an engineering sleight of hand.

To run essential hydraulic services and drive the rocket oxidizer pump that will supply 800 litres of High Test Peroxide (HTP) to the rocket in just 20 seconds - equivalent to 40 litres or over 9 gallons every second - a Cosworth engine from an F1 car will provide auxiliary power.

To establish a new World Land Speed Record, Bloodhound will have to make two runs over a measured mile in opposite directions within one hour. From a practical perspective, that means finding a way to stop where you want the second run to start. For Bloodhound that will probably mean using multi-plate carbon discs, with large circular pads or ‘stators’ squeezing the disc under braking, supported by airbrakes and the deployment of a parachute.

Bloodhound is due to attack the land speed record next year, but quite where is still undecided. A desert with an ultra-flat surface and 19 km of uninterrupted track is required. However, there are problems with all the usual venues, so if you know of one, let the Bloodhound team know.

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