MechChem Africa

Christopher Maxwell from Bloodhound SSC presents some of the technology behind the car being developed to break the land speed record – by breaching the 1 000 mph benchmark – and Altair’s involvement with the project.

Late in 2018, the team behind the Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) will attempt to set its first World Land Speed Record by travelling at over 763.035 mph or 1 227.985 km/h, a benchmark set over twenty years ago. The attempt is to take place on the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape of South Africa, initially with a world record speed of 800 mph being targeted.

The Bloodhound SCC 1690 km per hour.jpg

The ultimate goal for the team, which is being led by the past and the current world land speed record holder Richard Noble and Wing Commander Andy Green, is to break the 1 000 mph mark, or 1 600 km/h – with Andy Green in the driving seat.

The Bloodhound SSC is 13.5 m long and 4.5 m high. It produces a total of just under 1.0 MW of power (127 000 hp), weighs 7 500 kg and is designed for a top speed of 1 690 km/h, approaching Mach 1.4.

Less than half of its thrust is provided by a Eurojet EJ200, a military turbofan used by the Eurofighter Typhoon. “Air is pumped into the inlet pipe of the EJ200 at 700 km/h to start up the turbines. When running, the air flowing over the monocoque of the car is aerodynamically slowed down before reaching the intake duct so that the 9:1 thrust to weight ratio can be generated on combustion,” explains Maxwell, adding that the EJ200 takes the car up to about 1 300 km/h.

From there, a hybrid rocket engine from the Norwegian aerospace and defence company, Nammo, will kick in to push the cars speed over the final hurdle. The Nammo hybrid rocket is designed to house high-test hydrogen peroxide (HTP) as the oxidiser and hydroxyl terminated poly-butadiene (HTPB) as the fuel grain.

Liquid HTP is pumped at roughly 40 litres per second through a silver-plated catalyst pack at extremely high temperature and pressure (around 70 bar). The catalyst pack causes the peroxide (H2O2) to decomposes into steam (H2O) and oxygen (O2), which is released at 600 °C into the combustion chamber.

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