The Bloodhound Project: How Fast Can they Blast?

The Bloodhound Project: How Fast Can they Blast?

By Francesca Donadoni

With only a little more than a month since its public launch on September 24th, the Bloodhound project is still sparking curiosity not only amongst engineers but also anybody interested in what technology is capable of when pushed to its limits.

Started in 2008 by Richard Noble, holder of the land speed record from 1983 to 1997 and previously project director of the team building the vehicle which is currently holding the land speed record, the project is aimed at reaching a new record speed of 1000 mph, which will also exceed the low altitude speed record for an aircraft.

Unsurprisingly, it is from aviation that a lot of the technology used in this project originated from. Starting from the engine, or more precisely, engines, the first one is a Eurojet EJ200 jet engine that was donated to the project after having been developed for a museum. The second is a hybrid rocket engine and the third one, this time, is from the automotive industry: A Jaguar supercharged V-8 engine acting as an auxiliary power unit. This joint effort will allow enough acceleration to take the car up to 1000 mph in just 55 seconds!

In the effort to reach a speed which is 1.3 times the speed of sound, aerodynamics is one of the key aspects of design. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has been key in determining the optimized shape of the vehicle since at such high speeds, the aerodynamic forces become dominating, as opposed to gravitational and frictional forces. At 1000 mph, the drag on the car is estimated to reach 20 tons, while the weight of the car itself is only about 6.

The plan to bring the Bloodhound to the target speed is to use the EJ-200 engine to accelerate up to 300mph, after which the rocket engine will be ignited, bringing the car to 1050 mph. At this point, the rocket engine will be stopped and the car will begin to decelerate, until finally slowing down using air-brakes first, and disk brakes when the velocity is low enough.

Behind this technology is a brilliant team of engineers, consultants and managers coming from all over the world to ensure this exciting scientific challenge is a successful one. Their aim is not only to break a record which will make history, but beyond that is to inspire a new generation of engineers by means of this iconic project. Given the thousands of visitors who have already got their ticket to see the supersonic car, it seems that although the car has not been tested yet, it has already done a lot to communicate the value of engineering, which might be an even greater advantage than the speed record itself.


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