Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Bloodhound diary: Flaming hot

Andy Green (Bloodhound SSC)

RAF fighter pilot Andy Green intends to get behind the wheel of a car that is capable of reaching 1,000mph (1,610km/h). Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, the Bloodhound car will mount an assault on the land speed record.

Wing Cmdr Green is writing a diary for the BBC News Website about his experiences working on the Bloodhound project and the team's efforts to inspire national interest in science and engineering.

Bloodhound SSC (Curventa)
The team is making great strides on making the car very stable

Project Bloodhound is making some real progress, which is an exciting feeling.

We're close to finishing off the final shaping at the back end of the car and, after a lot of research and debate, we've also settled on the lateral stability requirement for the car.

It needs to resist a 0.8G lateral load, which will give us a rear wheel track that is narrow enough to do 1,000 mph, but plenty wide enough to make sure the car doesn't roll over.

Both of these characteristics get my vote!

I have just seen the first manufactured component that will go on the car.

Bloodhound's rocket engineer Daniel Jubb with impeller (Bloodhound SSC)
Our rocket expert Daniel Jubb and the pump impeller

Of course, we already have the EJ200 jet engine that will power the car, and we had the first set of wheel bearings delivered last year, but this is different - this is a piece designed and made specifically for Bloodhound.

It's the pump impeller, which will force a tonne of hydrogen peroxide (HTP) into the rocket in just 20 seconds.

It seems hard to believe that it will take over 600HP to turn this little paddle wheel (even spinning at over 10,000RPM) - we need our 800HP V12 MCT engine in the car just to turn it!

I was down at the Bloodhound Technology Centre in Bristol last week, discussing how we will transport, service and refuel Bloodhound SSC once it's ready to go.

We also made some key decisions on systems, including the hydraulics, electrics, jet and rocket starting/shutdown, etc.

Now I can get on with designing the cockpit in more detail - I should have a picture next month for you.

Hywel and Andy mould the steering wheel (Bloudhound SSC)
Hywel and Andy mould the perfect steering wheel

As part of the cockpit design, Hywel (one of our two year-in-industry students) has been given the task of designing the steering wheel for the car. I need something easier to use than, say, an F1 car steering wheel, but with more controls than an aircraft steering yoke.

Hywel is starting from scratch, taking a mould of my gloved hands to make sure that the wheel is a perfect fit for me. After a little trial and error (and without getting too much clay on his computer) we've now got a shape to scan and manufacture.

Hywel's loving the best year-in-industry job he could possibly imagine - and I can't wait to see the fastest steering wheel in the world.

Flame suite tests (Bloodhound SSC)
Flame-proof clothing will be needed for the driver and the support team

Another research programme that we started last year was to design a really good high-protection driver's suit.

Normal race suits only offer short-duration protection from fire (the cars are only going slowly, so they can quickly stop and jump out) and have never been tested against highly corrosive HTP (because they don't have huge rockets attached!).

Last year, Leeds University did some testing for us to show that a range of fire-resistant materials can also withstand HTP, so now we're looking for the most flame- and heat-resistant material.

A company called Lamination Technologies has developed an incredible new flame-proof fabric and has been doing some "Pyroman" testing for us, which is showing great results.

We're going to end up with some of the world's best protective clothing for both me and the Bloodhound engineers.

Finally, it's been a busy few weeks for presentations, on top of my full-time day-job with the Royal Air Force.

The most fun event this month has been the 1K Club open day, updating our supporters' club on what we're doing (they were the first people to see the rocket pump impeller - even

I hadn't seen it before the open day). If you want to share this Engineering Adventure with the team, as it happens, then come and visit us. See you soon!

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