Breaking The Land Speed Record

by Admin on July 30, 2014

Bloodhound SSCImage from BloodhoundSSC.com

October of 1997 marked the first time that a land vehicle had officially broke the sound barrier. This was (and still is) a world record for land speed, and was set by the British team driving the car called the Thrust SSC. In 2008, the same team announced a new project that they would be undertaking. The plan was to build a car capable of exceeding a speed of 1000 mph, beating the previous record by almost 300 mph. This was the birth of the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car.

In order to make a car capable of driving 1000 mph, there are a huge number of factors that need to be taken into consideration. Some of the major ones are aerodynamics, propulsion, and braking. The aerodynamics of the vehicle are influenced by the shape of its body. To design an aerodynamic body, the team used supercomputers to calculate the fluid dynamics of the body. The computers allow for calculations of how the shape will react at any speed.

The most important part of the design of the body is that it doesn’t generate any lift. With lift, it would be possible for the car to “take off,” causing the driver to lose control. At such high speeds, this would kill the driver. The nose and winglets of the car must generate enough downforce to prevent this from happening. Lastly, the tailfin of the Bloodhound is there to stabilize the lateral movement of the car and keep it going in a straight line.

The engine of the Bloodhound SSC will be required to generate a lot of force to get to 1000 mph. Since 1963, land speed records have been beaten by cars using jet propulsion. More recently, they have also started using rockets. The Bloodhound SSC combines both a jet engine and rocket to provide thrust to the vehicle.

The jet engine will be used to accelerate to 300 mph, after which the rocket will be used to finish the acceleration to 1000 mph. The Bloodhound uses the same jet engine as the military Eurofighter Typhoon, a EUROJET EJ200 turbofan engine. This low bypass engine allows for extra thrust.

Bloodhound SSC Jet EngineThe jet engine. Image from BloodhoundSSC.com

The rocket used by the Bloodhound SSC is a Nammo hybrid rocket. A hybrid rocket means that it will use fuel that is in two different states of matter (solid, liquid, or gas). Together, these two engines are capable of generating 8 times the combined force of every car in a Formula 1 race. A third, smaller engine (about the size of a normal car engine) will also be used to help pump fuel into the rocket engine.

Once the vehicle is travelling at 1000 mph, it needs to have a way to be able to stop. This is where the braking systems come in. The Bloodhound SSC has 3 main systems in place: air brakes, parachutes, and wheel brakes. The air brakes will be the first brakes to be deployed to slow the car down from 1000 mph. Air brakes are designed so that they increase drag on the vehicle, making it less aerodynamic and slowing it down. They are usually some kind of panel on the surface of the vehicle that is lifted while braking. The second braking system is the parachute. It will be deployed when the Bloodhound decelerates to around 600 mph. The parachutes work in a similar way to the air brakes, offering a large surface area to allow for more drag.

The Bloodhound will have 2 parachutes in case one fails. The final braking system is the wheel brakes. Once the car has slowed down below 250 mph, the parachute and airbrakes will be significantly less effective (speed affects drag). This is why wheel brakes are necessary. Even though they will not go that speed, the wheel brakes need to be able to survive 10,000 RPM. Initially, the wheel brakes were carbon rotors from a fighter jet, but these were incapable of exceeding 5000 RPM. They were changed to steel discs that performed much better than the carbon. This combination of braking systems allows for more safety since they are all independent. If one fails, the other 2 will still be able to slow down the Bloodhound SSC enough to stop.

Currently, the Bloodhound SSC is still being tested. Its final run is scheduled to take place in early 2016 on a course in South Africa. If they are successful, this will be the largest ever margin by which the land speed record has been surpassed.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek Kubik July 31, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Very cool, I think I remember seeing this or something like it in a popular science magazine a few years ago.

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Christina July 31, 2014 at 5:38 pm

I wonder how long the track will need to be in order for it to reach this speed and then have enough distance to slow down. I’m looking forward to reading the stats on how it does in 2016. Field trip anyone?

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Arthur Zhang July 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Interesting! Very fast. Good luck to whoever will drive it.

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Kandace July 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm

The Bloodhound SSC is redefining the fast and the furious!!

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Kate Post July 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I cannot imagine the look on one’s face going that fast!

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