All set for Bloodhound 800km/h high-speed tests in SA
The Bloodhound Land Speed Record (LSR) team yesterday revealed the car aiming to claim a new world land speed record next year, seen for the first time in completed desert spec as it begins its high-speed testing programme in the Hakskeenpan desert, Northern Cape, SA.
The Bloodhound LSR programme is a UK-based global endeavour exploiting the cutting-edge of digital technologies to set a new world land speed record.
The high-speed tests will see the Bloodhound LSR car blast along the Hakskeenpan desert racetrack for the first time, providing a showcase of British engineering to a global audience.
The Bloodhound team’s primary objective is to engage and inspire people of all ages through the most extreme application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
According to the team, it’s the first time the car has been seen with its precision machined solid aluminium wheels, made to withstand the stresses of travelling at supersonic speeds.
For this first test session, the wheels will be tested up to 800km/h.
The world’s fastest straight-line car, powered by an EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine, was rolled out at the Bloodhound Technical Camp on the edge of the Hakskeenpan desert, and presented to premier Dr Zamani Saul of the Northern Cape Provincial Government.
The team says one of the key objectives of the testing is, counter-intuitively, to evaluate how the car behaves when slowing down and stopping from a number of target speeds, building up to and beyond 800km/h.
Only once engineers and driver, Andy Green, are satisfied they understand the drag and stopping ability of the car will they push to the next run profile, building speed in each run by increments of 80km/h.
The Bloodhound LSR team will examine how much drag the car creates in a number of scenarios and at various speeds, using the wheel brakes, one or both of the drag parachutes, and with the giant airbrakes locked into position.
Data from 192 pressure sensors on the car will be monitored and compared against the predicted computational fluid dynamic models to ensure they marry up.
Bloodhound’s engineers will work with assistant professor, Ben Evans, and Jack Townsend, from Swansea University, to check the data, which will reveal the amount of drag experienced by the car on each run.
This data is critical to determine the size of the rocket that will be fitted to the car for the attempt to set a new world land speed record in 12 to 18 months.
On the throttle
Mark Chapman, Bloodhound LSR engineering director, says: “It was all about getting up to speed and finding out how quickly we could get the engine to full power and accelerate using max reheat. Andy was on the throttle for two seconds to reach 322km/h in eight seconds.
“Here at the Hakskeenpan on a 16km track, we can accelerate for much longer, achieve higher speeds and investigate the car’s stability, performance and drag, all crucial as we move towards setting a new world land speed record.”
The Bloodhound LSR team says it is grateful to the Northern Cape Provincial Government and members of the local Mier community, who undertook the painstaking process of removing 16 500 tonnes of rock from 22 million square metres of dry lakebed to ensure the Bloodhound car can run smoothly and safely.
It points out it’s the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event, and testament to the partnership forged between all three groups. This feat was recognised by the FIA in 2016 with the award of certificates and medals for the 317 workers.
“The people of the Northern Cape province and I are sure the rest of the country and continent is in full support of the Bloodhound Land Speed Record project and we are honoured that you have chosen and partnered with the Northern Cape for this historical event,” says Saul.
“As this administration, we have articulated a vision of a modern, growing and successful province and this can only be attained by attracting stakeholders to invest in key sectors of the province. This will enable us to tackle challenges of underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty.
“Events such as these have the potential to contribute to much-needed job creation and skills development, as well as infrastructure development for the surrounding communities. We are, therefore, grateful for the direct socio-economic spinoffs of the project and trust the province will only benefit from the exposure it is receiving.”
IOT on board
One of the most cutting-edge pieces of technology employed by the Bloodhound team will be the low-power wide area network Internet of things (IOT) remote sensor array.
Remote micro-climate weather stations will be located every 1km along the 16km track. These are battery-powered devices which record wind speed, gust speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.
Since they send back data over a wireless network, they can be located anywhere and still operate, which is crucial in the desert, with very little infrastructure.
Data is transmitted from the IOT sensor stations via a low-power, long-range radio network to a specially made data platform created by tech innovation company Digital Catapult, which converts the data into relevant and useable information used to understand changes in the weather which may affect the car.
The team says this is vital in keeping Green and the Bloodhound car safe. Cross-winds in particular will affect the stability of the car at such high speeds.
Peter Karney, Digital Catapult spokesperson, explains: “The car is aiming to go faster than any other land-based machine built thus far. At the speeds hoped for, unexpected cross-winds could significantly affect the stability and direction of the vehicle and are therefore a key decision point on when to run the car.
“We will be measuring and storing accurate data at 1km points along the track and, therefore, this info can be used by the team to plan the run.”