Innovation at 1,000 mph

Tim Edwards | 03 Nov 2014 | Comments

As I write this I’m working out of our Seattle office, preparing to introduce the Bloodhound SSC project to an engineering audience at a US technical symposium in Seattle. It’s a project that has grabbed the fascination of countless people across the world – from its base in the UK to all the way across the Atlantic – and it’s easy to see why.

Bloodhound SSC’s mission profile is to beat the 763.035 mph world land speed record set by Thrust SSC in 1997 and hopefully raise the record to 1,000 mph. If the project is successful the vehicle will need all of the 135,000 horse power generated by its jet and rocket engines to allow it to cover a measured mile in a staggering 3.6 seconds.

Bloodhound is an extraordinary automobile and its design speed makes it faster than a jet fighter at sea level. It’s therefore no surprise that the technologies supporting its development are closer to aerospace than automotive.

Our aerospace team had the privilege of consulting on some aspects of the composite material elements behind the supersonic car’s construction, as well as applying the rigorous stress testing principles learnt from large aircraft development programmes to a car with the ambition of creating ‘the fastest man on earth’.

We’ve also had the opportunity to raise awareness of the project with a wide variety of audiences, from presenting at STEM-led school workshops in the UK and abroad to engineering events in the States.

As part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, a team of Atkins engineers are undertaking a workshop for Year 8 pupils at a Bristol school on Thursday 6 November. After being introduced to the Bloodhound SSC project and the engineering principles that lie behind the car, the students will then be invited to put that knowledge into practice by building their own balloon-powered Bloodhound and racing them against their peers.

Bloodhound’s mission is about more than just the engineering principles behind the car, and whether the team hit their target of 1,050 mph or not, the project will not only have challenged what is possible but also have helped to inspire tomorrow’s engineers.

You can read more about Atkins’ involvement in the Bloodhound project here. The Bloodhound project was also featured on a recent BBC Newsbeat report.

*picture credit: Stefan Marjoram