Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Design fixed for 1,000mph car

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News


The power of imagination: Bloodhound's race with a Eurofighter

The UK team aiming to smash its own land speed record by driving a car beyond 1,000mph (1,610km/h) has settled on a final design for the vehicle.

It calls for a major re-configuration of the vehicle's two power units, with a Eurofighter jet engine now being positioned above a hybrid rocket.

The car, known as Bloodhound, will be built in Bristol's docklands.

The team expects to start running the vehicle on the Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape Province, South Africa, in 2011.

The dried-out lake bed had the perfect surface for the record attempt, said Bloodhound's driver, Wing Commander Andy Green.

"It's hard enough to support a six-tonne car on metal wheels but soft enough to allow the wheels just to sink in maybe 10mm," he told BBC News.

Thrust SSC (PA)
Thrust SSC broke the sound barrier when it claimed the record

"That gives the damping, or compliance, we need; but it also gives me the lateral grip that allows me to steer the car at slow-to-medium speeds. At high speeds, it's not so important because the bits of the wheel that stick out of the bottom of the car act as an effective rudder."

Andy Green set the current World Land Speed Record in 1997 when he drove the Thrust SSC jet-powered vehicle at 763mph (1,228km/h).

The RAF pilot is now returning for a crack at his own mark in a project led by his old team principal, Richard Noble, himself a former land speed record holder.

Many of the original Thrust design and engineering staff are also involved.

The Bloodhound group hopes the quest to take a car through 1,000mph will be an inspirational venture, in particular to young children thinking of pursuing careers in science and technology.

Bloodhound SSC (Curventa)
Car will feature largest hybrid rocket ever designed in UK
EJ200 jet engine is same unit that powers UK's frontline aircraft
Total of 212kN (47,500lb) of thrust - about the same as 180 F1 cars

The project was launched into the public domain in October 2008. Since then, intensive efforts have been under way to finalise the car's design - one that maximises the vehicle's performance and stability.

The original plan was to position a small (200kg) rocket above a heavier (1,000kg) EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon engine loaned to the team by Britain's Ministry of Defence.

However, as the design staff worked through the modelling, it became clear that additional thrust was going to be needed to overcome the aerodynamic drag. This called for a bigger (400kg) rocket.

This in turn introduced instabilities that could only be solved by flipping the positions of the two power units.

"We have switched the architecture of the rocket and the jet engine and the reason for that was we were seeing some quite high lift loads at the rear end of the car," explained chief designer John Piper.

"The change, though, has had some beneficial side-effects, he added.

"We can now get a good chassis structure across the top which means we can now have a really good mounting for a single fin, whereas before with the rocket on top it was right in the way of where the fin would go. That meant we were going to have to have two fins, one on each side; and they were occupying the space where ideally we'd like to put in parachute cans.

The BBC's Robert Hall discusses the final design of Bloodhound

"So, there've been lots of small gains out of this."

With the design now fixed, the car can be built. This will be done at a special facility in Bristol's docklands area, right next to Brunel's famous iron ship SS Great Britain.

Bloodhound is a private venture. Although it has substantial in-kind support through the MoD in the loan of two EJ200s, it has to raise some £10m of funds to complete the record attempt.

Major sponsors include the aerospace giant Lockheed Martin which has helped in designing Bloodhound's aluminium wheels; and Intel which has assisted the modelling work by making available one of the largest computer clusters in the country.

Bloodhound now has more than 2,410 primary and secondary schools, 98 further education colleges and 33 universities signed up and using the Bloodhound education resources in their lessons.

World land speed records by Britons

Bloodhound SSC (Curventa)

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