Bloodhound LSR trials a success as team prepares for record runs

10 December 2019

10 December 2019

The Bloodhound LSR car is on its way back to the UK following a successful high-speed testing programme.

During the runs at the Hakskeenpan, a dry lakebed in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa, the car hit a top speed of 628mph (1,010kmh), making it (unofficially) the sixth-fastest car of all time. Driver Andy Green achieved this from a standing start in 50 seconds, although going fast was not the primary aim of the six-week trial.

The 12 run profiles were designed to develop the team, hone operational processes, deliver crucial data, and prepare the car for the record attempt within the next 18 months. For example, sensors on the underside of the car reported that during its fastest outing, the air beneath the car went supersonic.

Sponsor opportunities

′The global media interest around the high-speed testing has really raised our profile, and potential sponsors are getting in touch every day, says Bloodhound owner Ian Warhurst. ′Our partners will have opportunities to get involved in the next exciting phase of the project, as we develop the monopropellant rocket and prepare the car for supersonic speeds.

′With the data we’ve generated from the high-speed testing we’re able to start budgeting for the next phase of the project, which will need to be funded through sponsorship. We know it will require up to £10 million (€11.8 million) and the incredible social engagement with our high-speed testing programme has proved that sponsors will see a return on investment and be a part of history.’

Sensor gathering

Recording data was a high-tech process. The Bloodhound LSR car is covered with 192 air pressure tappings, plus a multitude of strain gauges, temperature sensors and accelerometers. These provide data on the pressures and loads that the Bloodhound LSR car was under at high speed. The data from these sensors were  reviewed following every run to check if they married up with the predicted computer-generated  computational-fluid dynamics (CFD) models and suspension loadings.

Swansea University’s Jack Townsend and Assistant Professor Ben Evans reviewed the data and found there was a correlation of over 90% between the predicted CFD model and the data generated – this was beyond expectations. Even the area where paintwork was stripped from the underside of the car by transonic airflow was in the exact same spot as was predicted by the CFD.

Rocket power

The team states that this is highly encouraging, as it means the predicted models are accurate and it gives great confidence in the aerodynamic shape of the car as speeds increase, as well as a genuine belief that a targeted new land-speed record of 800 mph, or even faster, is possible.

To set a new world land-speed record, beating the current 763mph set by Thrust SSC in 1997, the Bloodhound LSR team needs to fit a rocket on the car.

Norwegian aerospace expert Nammo is developing a monopropellant rocket as part of the European Space Agency R&D programme, which will be the perfect fit for the Bloodhound LSR car, slotting easily into the vacant tunnel beneath the EJ200 jet engine. The new rocket will use concentrated hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which, when passed through a catalyst, decomposes into H2O and oxygen, while generating the several tonnes of thrust needed to blast Bloodhound LSR into the record books.