Becoming the world’s fastest has always fascinated man. The land speed record is being hold by the jet-propelled Thrust SSC driven by Andy Green which achieved a speed of 1,228km/h (763mph) in 1997. Now the British team behind the first car to officially break the sound barrier is working on a new car destined to shatter the current record.
The Bloodhound SSC is a car designed to hit the impressive speed of 1,690km/h (1,050mph or Mach 1.4). This week a new milestone has been reached in the development of the jet and rocket powered car. The Bloodhound SSC will be powered by three engines which will produce more than 135,000 horsepower, that’s more than six times the power of all the Formula 1 cars on a starting grid put together.
First there is a turbo fan normally found in the engine bay of a Eurofighter Typhoon which accounts for approximately half the thrust of the Bloodhound. The jet engine will take the car to 480km/h (300mph) in about fifteen seconds, after which the rocket kicks in.
Designed by 28-year-old self-trained rocketeer Daniel Jubb, the rocket is a hybrid as it combines solid fuel (a synthetic rubber) with a liquid oxidiser (High Test Peroxide, or HTP) reacting with a catalyst (a fine mesh of silver) to produce its power. A 750hp Cosworth Formula One engine is used as an auxiliary power unit to supply 800 liters of HTP to the rocket in just twenty seconds ‒ equivalent to fourty liters or over nine gallons ‒ every second.
In these twenty seconds, the rocket will blast the car and its driver Andy Green up to its targeted top speed of 1,690km/h. The rocket engine will provide an average thrust of 111,000Nm or 111kN (25,000lbf) for twenty seconds. The peak thrust will be 122kN (27,500lbf).
At top speed the car covers 469 meters each second. The wheels made from solid aluminium will spin at over 10,000rpm and will be subject to 50,000 times the force of gravity. Having reached maximum speed, the rocket thrust will be stopped, the jet engine throttled back and airbrakes begin to deploy. The car will decelerate at nearly 3g.
The team led by Richard Noble has successfully tested its unique hybrid rocket system for the first time. The Bloodhound’s rocket is the largest of its kind ever designed in Europe and the biggest to be fired in the UK for twenty years. During the test the rocket ran for ten seconds and generated over 14,000lbs of thrust, which equals approximately 35,000 horsepower.
Other figures are impressive as well, the sound levels at the rocket nozzle reached 185 decibels. That’s more than a Boeing 747 produces during takeoff and far beyond the threshold of pain ‒ in fact it’s loud enough to burst your eardrums.
If everything goes according to plan, the Bloodhound SSC will run at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa within a year from now. The first runs at the very hard and very flat desert area are intended to hit a speed of 1,300km/h. Data will be gathered, investigated and perhaps some re-engineering will follow in order to bring the car back in 2014 for the 1,600km/h attempt.