Picture caption: Left to right: Gill
Caldicott, Director, Operations, British Council India, Ian Gray, Chief
Executive Officer of UK's Innovation agency-Innovate UK, Wing Commander Andy
Green, Bloodhound SSC pilot and Richard Everitt, Director Education, British Council
The British Council, a division of the British
High Commission, unveiled the Bloodhound SSC Show Car as part of the ‘Great
Britain’ campaign on November 11, 2014 in New Delhi. The show car is meant to
display UK’s capabilities in world class engineering and innovation expertise.
The Bloodhound SSC has been designed to achieve speeds just over 1600kmph
(1000mph). The show car was unveiled by Richard Everitt (Director Education,
British Council of India), Ian Gray (CEO, Innovate UK) and Wing Commander Andy
D. Green (Bloodhound SSC Pilot) at the British Council in New Delhi.
This supersonic car has been developed
using a mix of car and aircraft technology. The front of the car is made of
carbon fibre monocoque like a race car while the rear of the car is made of a
metallic framework and panels like an airplane. The previous version of the
Bloodhound SSC was called the Thrust SSC which was also piloted by Wing
Commander Andy D. Green. On October 15, 1997 Andy Green set the world’s land
speed record at Black Rock Desert, Nevada in the Thrust SSC. The Thrust SSC
broke the sound barrier and achieved a top speed of 1,227kmph. The Bloodhound
SSC has three power plants to propel it forward – a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet from
a Eurofighter Typhoon, a cluster of NAMMO hybrid rockets and a 650hp race car
engine which will drive the rocket oxidizer pump. The combined power produced
by the Bloodhound SSC is 1,35,000bhp which is equal to the power produced by
180 F1 cars.
Over 250 global companies are involved in
the project while 180 of them are SMEs. The car is currently being assembled in
the Bloodhound Technical Centre in Bristol, UK. The Bloodhound SSC is set to
roll out in the summer of 2015 where it will test up to speeds of 321kmph at
the Aerohub, Newquay. The second step of the project will be to test the
Bloodhound SSC in South Africa with a target of reaching 1,287kmph (800mph).
The vehicle has a slender body and is approximately 14 meters long with two
front wheels within the body and two rear wheels which have been mounted
externally. The Bloodhound SSC weighs over 7 tonnes.
The Bloodhound SSC project aims to inspire
the coming generation of engineers and aspiring scientist to pursue STEM
courses and later careers in those fields. There are around 5,600 UK schools
and universities are presently involved in the Bloodhound SSC project.
TECHNOLOGY BEHIND BLOODHOUND SSC
According to a press release issued earlier, in June 2014
the cockpit of the vehicle was unveiled. Hand crafted by URT Group using five
different types of carbon fibre weave and two different resins, the monocoque
has taken more than 10,000 hours to design and manufacture. Sandwiched between
the layers of carbon fibre are three different thicknesses of aluminium
honeycomb core (8, 12 and 20mm), which provide additional strength. At its
thickest point the monocoque comprises of 13 individual layers but is just 25mm
in cross section.
The structure weighs 200kg and bolts directly to the
metallic rear chassis carrying the jet, rocket and racing car engine. The
carbon front section will have to endure peak aerodynamic loads of up to three
tonnes per square metre at 1,000mph (1,609kph) as well the considerable forces
generated by the front wheels and suspension. It will also carry ballistic
armour to protect the driver should a stone be thrown up by the front wheels at
very high speeds. The roof of the cockpit has been designed to create a series
of shockwaves that will channel the air into the Eurojet EJ200 jet engine. If supersonic air reaches the jet engine fan
blades, the airflow will break down and the engine will ‘choke’ (known as a
‘surge’). This can generate huge changes in pressure that could damage both the
jet engine and Car, hence Bloodhound SSC using shockwaves over the canopy to
slow the airflow from over 1,000mph (1,609km/h) to just 600mph (643km/h) in a
distance of around one metre. Deflecting
winds travelling five times faster than a hurricane will, however, cause
additional noise and vibration to be transmitted into the cockpit. The cockpit
is positioned in front of three incredibly loud motors: the jet, a cluster of
hybrid rockets and the racing car engine that drives the rocket’s oxidiser
pump. Collectively they will generate a noise level estimated at 140 decibels.
Much of the noise will be directed backwards, away from the driver, and above 750mph
(1,207km/h) the car will out-run its own sound waves. However, the Project’s
engineers still anticipate that shockwave and jet intake noise levels may
produce over 120 decibels inside the cockpit. Andy will wear an in-ear
communications system specially made by Ultimate Ear to protect his hearing and
to ensure that he can communicate with Mission Control.
Bloodhound has a highly specialised windscreen custom-made
by PPA Group from acrylic. The plastic is heated, stretched and then two layers
are bonded together to create a 25mm section, thicker than a fighter jet’s
windscreen and sufficient to withstand an impact with a 1kg bird at 900mph
(1,448km/h). Due to the oblique angle the windscreen is set at, the driver will
in fact be looking through 50mm of curved plastic. The key challenge has
therefore been to make the screen robust while maintaining absolute visual
clarity. Andy has drawn on his experience of flying fast jets and driving World
Land Speed Record winners Thrust SSC and JCB Dieselmax to design the dashboard
and cockpit layout. Good ergonomics are vital given that Bloodhound SSC will
cover a mile in 3.6 seconds, or 150m in the (300 millisecond) blink of an eye.
The central screen shows the speed in miles per hour and
Mach number (Mach 1 being the speed of sound), calculated by GPS, plus jet
engine and rocket outputs. Dynamic speed indicators help Andy to judge when to
fire the rocket and deploy the braking systems. Wheel loads are also given
prominence. Bloodhound does not use aerodynamic downforce, as a Formula 1 car
does, while lift at the nose or rear axle must also be avoided at all costs.
The need to carefully balance forces throughout its 1000mph speed range is one
of the major reasons why shaping the Car has taken 30 design-years.
The left-hand screen shows hydraulic pressures and
temperatures in the braking and airbrake systems, while the one to Andy’s right
provides information about the three engines, including temperatures, pressures
and fuel levels. Together, the EJ200 jet engine and Nammo hybrid rockets
produce around 210 kN (21 tonnes) of thrust, equivalent to 135,000 thrust hp,
or 180 F1 cars, and Andy will monitor their status at key points during each
Bloodhound’s dash also features two precision-engineered
analogue Rolex instruments: a chronograph with built-in stopwatch, and a
speedometer graduated up to 1,100mph (1,770km/h). The speedometer is a vital
back-up to allow the car to be stopped safely should the digital dashboard
fail, while the chronograph will help to time the start-up and cool-down of the
jet, and help to monitor the performance of other systems. Tested to withstand
the severe vibration at 1,000 mph and the desert heat, these bespoke Rolex
instruments are unique to Bloodhound SSC.
Andy enters his office via a carbon fibre hatch, 500mm in
diameter, just below the jet air intake. At full power, the EJ200 fan sucks in
65 m3 of air per second, so the hatch will be fastened using latches able to
withstand loads of 2.5kN (quarter of a tonne) to prevent it from getting
ingested into the engine.
The instrument panels have been coated with a special
non-reflective grey paint to provide the optimum background colour against
which to see the gauges and controls, while the cockpit walls are white to
maximise the available light in the cockpit. The Car also has interior lights,
as Bloodhound SSC will often be prepared before dawn, when the desert will
still be dark and temperatures around freezing.
During the day ambient temperatures will approach 40ºC (104ºF) though Bloodhound
SSC will most likely not run in conditions above 25ºC (77ºF) as the metallic
sections of the car will get too hot for the team to handle and the jet engine
is inefficient when burning hot, less dense air. Cockpit temperature is still expected to approach
exceed 35ºC (95ºF), so external air conditioning will be used to cool it prior
to each run, though this is primarily for the comfort of the electronics, not
Andy will keep Bloodhound SSC on course using a bespoke 3D
printed titanium steering wheel, shaped to his hands and finger reach. Buttons on the front control the EMCOM radio,
airbrakes and parachutes, while triggers on the rear of the handgrips prime and
fire the rockets. BLOODHOUND engineers
developed several design evolutions of the wheel, the last of which was
finalised for manufacture by Cambridge Design Partnership. Bloodhound has a
conventional steering rack with a 30:1 ratio (compared to a normal car of
around 15:1) though its long wheelbase makes for a very large turning circle:
240 metres, compared with 10 metres for a typical family hatchback.
Bloodhound SSC has pedals like a regular car, though once
again, they are custom designed for Andy. The right-hand pedal throttles the
EJ200 jet engine and will be used to start the car moving. The left pedal
controls the wheel brakes and will be used to slow the car at speeds below
200mph (321km/h). The wheel brakes will only contribute about one percent of
the total braking effort, reducing the stopping distance by around half a mile. Braking speed is critical, as using the wheel
brakes above 200mph (321km/h) will exceed their energy capacity and set fire to
Driver safety has been the prime design and engineering
objective throughout Bloodhound’s gestation and the team has worked closely
with motor racing’s governing world body, the Fédération Internationale de
L’Automobile (FIA) to create the best safety cell in the history of motor
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