A supersonic car built to reach speeds of 1,000mph is being built with the help of students from Swansea.
Travelling faster than the speed of sound is something Concorde did through the skies. The Bloodhound SSC (SuperSonic Car) project aims to break the speed of sound on land with speeds of 1,000mph.
To achieve its ludicrous top speed, the 12.8m long vehicle uses three power sources — a EJ200 jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon, a Falcon Rocket and a V8 petrol engine. The jet creates nine tonnes of thrust which, coupled with the 12 tonnes of rocket thrust, will propel the vehicle one mile in 3.6 seconds. Combined, all three power sources produce a whopping 135,000bhp, enabling the car to do 0-1,000mph in 55 seconds.
The chassis is a combination of carbonfibre at the front and solid metal at the back, where then power units are housed.
Students in Swansea have the daunting task of perfecting the aerodynamics. To date, the students have used high-end computer simulation to assess what aerodynamic features the Bloodhound SSC will need. They need to make sure with all that power, the car doesn’t go airborne.
Dr Ben Evans, Aerospace Engineer at Swansea University told the BBC, “Once you’re travelling faster than the speed of sound, you generate shockwaves where you experience really high pressures and to understand the complexities of that in the context of a car travelling across a desert surface has been a massive problem.”
The other big challenge is the wheels. Lockheed Martin has provided expertise to help the students understand what shape the wheels will need to be. ‘Round’ would be our first guess, but they’re expected to do 10,000 revs per minute, under a force 50,000 times larger than the force of gravity so there are other considerations.
High speed testing will start in South Africa next year and the world land speed record attempt is scheduled for 2017.
Update: This headline erroneously read that the Bloodhound SSC was being built in Swansea. We understand the vehicle is being built in Bristol, with the aerodynamics being developed and made in Swansea.