Going 1,000mph isn’t easy. But that’s exactly what the Bloodhound project wants to do. In order to do so you need a few things; a rather special car, a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet and a rocket. Oh, and a rather brave person to sit behind the wheel. So strap your brain in as magazine’s Ollie Marriage speaks to Andy Green about what it’s like to do 628mph – and how this car will try and hit 1,000. Be warned: there’s talk of yaw, static roll margins and what it’s like to drift a supersonic car. Series 28: The Online Geneva Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.
still dusty this is bloodhound fresh back from South Africa where it did 628 miles an hour during its warmup but you don’t want me telling you about it let me go and grab Andy Green right Andy first question this car did naught to six hundred and twenty eight miles an hour in 50 seconds taught me for a run mid-november last year or on the hack scheme pan and it’s papa state in the morning just being cleared to run jet engines running I’ve got ten miles of track in front of me it’s time to try and do 600 miles an hour in bloodhound left foot off the brake right foot easing it forward to the detent the maximum dry pass spin the turbine up immediately their car leaps forward stabilize it max dry just for about one second as soon as I see that starting to stabilize we’re doing about 30 miles an hour at this stage push through the detent straight up to max really reheat lights and nozzle expands at the back plane still over that car is now relieved 20 miles an hour per second so we’re doing the equivalent of zero to 60 in three seconds and it just keeps going at that speed up through 150 half a mile into the run there’s an old road that crosses our track and going across that half a mile in we’re already doing 180 miles an hour the car is still accelerating at 20 miles an hour per second up through 200 220 42-6 and it just keeps going at that rate next checkpoint is three miles in the old causeway we’ve graded off is it color change so I can see that very very clearly three miles into the run Dakar is doing 500 miles an hour and still accelerating just a little bit of drag coming in now so the dragging that the acceleration is now down to no dropping below fifteen miles an hour per second gradually down towards ten miles now for a second as we squeeze up towards 600 miles now a little bit of a gusting crosswind from the right so the car is moving around a little bit I feel it being pushed to one side and whether cocking into wind so let it move and as it weathercocks a snap of steering on a couple of occasions just to keep it straight keep it on the line up through 600 miles now of course we’re in South Africa the kilometre marks all the way we measured the track out there so we get to kilometer seven I hear the radio 4 port 4 kilometer 7 we’re just below 600 I know we’ve got about half kilometer spare so I get a give an extra 2 second count after that call 1,002 1,003 and then lift at 600 miles an hour indicating turns out the speedos the reading most likely reading about 6:20 at this stage peakers at 6:28 is the jet engine winds down and immediately on now starting to throw forward in those traps because we’re now slowing down at close to 1 G with the aerodynamic drag immediately stabilized the car still a little bit of a dusty crosswind from the right so stabilizing it now steering with one hand is mine like left hand drops down to the parachute lever pull that at 590 miles an hour bang as my head goes toward an extra 1g of deceleration next to six tons of drag on the car guards now in the next four seconds we’ll lose 100 miles an hour four seconds from 592 490 then the drag starts to gradually tail officer speed comes down down through 450 three-fifty it’s all starting to move nice and slowly now down below 350 looking for 300 and then 250 miles now we’re about a mile to the stop point I could see the recovery crow 250 miles now we’re now at slow speed easing the brakes on and anything below 250 so slow pretty much get out walk at this stage right Andy let’s start down the pointy end and you can talk me through the car so I’m alright I’m thinking this is titanium down the front exactly right this car was designed with the capability of going up to a thousand miles an hour now doing that in the thick air at ground level will generate a lot of heat over a hundred and thirty centigrade at the nose now this is carbon fiber that is plastic we don’t want to heat that up otherwise it starts to get soft so the metal nose tip is part of spreading that heat and protecting the carbon fiber it is also as it happens 3d printed titanium nose cone and that is part of showing off showcasing the magical technology that’s been built into this amazing car fantastic right let’s move straight back up because this has caught my eye there’s a hole here with a number 52 by it what and there’s another one here and what are these about absolutely they they run on a central line up the car and there’s another whole bunch underneath the car there is a total of 159 of these holes all over the car they are pressure sensors you know the critical thing about taking this car to supersonic speeds is understanding and managing the enormous aerodynamic loads you know again talking about the peak speed of a thousand miles an hour the air atomic loads then become something like eleven point eight tons per square meter of what’s called stagnation pressure you know the pressure you stick your hand out of the motorway speed well if you do it four miles an hour your hand will finish up with a load of quarter of a ton on it so thinking about the aerodynamics because this surprised me a bit you’ve got obviously all loads and loads of screws where they’re all the panels are connected but they’re not covered though they’re you know they could disturb the airflow is that Alright or how is that melamine it’s absolutely fine we could produce a little bit less drag in a slightly smoother airflow by taping those over but that would be a fairly time-consuming process and we would gain almost nothing because that the they’re slightly recessed and as the air flows over the car you finish up with a very thin what’s called boundary layer so it’s a very thin layer of new stagnant air across the surface they sit underneath the boundary layer it has almost no effect right and II there are some bits I recognize here because there’s a big spring and what looks like a conventional brake disc so you’ve got some what I recognized as bits of a normal car here what are they doing for you it is pretty much exactly that you would recognize in a race car I mean if you think Formula One with a sort of you know the double wishbone and and pull rod it’s exactly the same here except beef here so you’ve seen the massive spring and damping unit there the the the double wishbone and pull rod are actually buried in here and to give you some idea the pull rod and a Formula One car you could put about a ton of load on it so you could use it you could use one of those rods to pick up the whole car yeah ours will take 16 tons of load so you could use one of those to pick up the whole grid but we don’t need very powerful brakes for this most of the braking is done with air brakes these are just for driving around at slow speed and stopping the car from slow speeds but your version of slow speeds close to these 250 miles an hour it’s quite race cars have carbon discs Road cars have iron discs we have steel nobody uses steel the reason we’ve chosen that the carbon is good to the spin speed but you know eight nine thousand ten thousand revolutions a minute the iron will have exploded a long time ago the carbon you’re getting right up to the limiting strength of what that’s capable of taking the steel is strong enough to take those rotational loads moving on this this isn’t treat me this cannot have been part of the original design it’s a water bottle with a pipe going into it anybody it’s been involved in motorsport knows that rapid prototyping is an essential part of the process this is an infield modification this here is the cooling tank that actually absorbs all the heat from the jet engine gearbox it was pushing out more heat than we expected and actually getting hot and we expected so although we had a blow-off valve here we actually decided to fit an expansion tank just in case we did finish up with any fluid so rather than it dripping out to the fuselage we actually fitted this is an expansion tank just in case we finished up with X any extra fluid the right size of container we happen to have the Bloodhound water bottle available on our website obviously but the guy was literally just plumbed it in overnight to actually make sure if we did finish up heating this tank up that’s where the fluid would go behind the water tank which will absorb a lot of energy itself we then have the ballistic matting that will then basically stop pretty much anything that the will could throw off and behind that of course is the carbon fiber monocoque which is a structural heart of the car inside of which I’m sat so I’m incredibly well protected behind all of this and did you have to take that into a ballistics laboratory and fire stuff at it before it was fitted to the car or did you know what it was going to do all that it’s exactly what we did we actually fired a representative chunk of a piece of stone or a piece of aluminium that could come off the wheel at supersonic speeds and find it at the appropriate angle into that stuff and proof it wouldn’t go through so we know this will work dropping in it’s quite narrow and Andy Greene’s about a yard taller than I am right so Andy what am I looking at here I’ve got what looks like a 3d printed steering wheel in front of it exactly right very conventional steering wheel except of course it’s not it’s 3d printed in titanium it’s another showcase piece of technology but actually you know Renishaw made that for us you know he’s made to the shape of my hand so it’s it’s exactly the right grip with the buttons in exactly the right place absolutely perfect now there’s I think there’s a lovely story isn’t there about the triggers you’re using on the back of the steering wheel in that they literally arm bits from a drill absolutely the you know although we’ve got the most sophisticated steering wheel in terms of being 3d printed in titanium pretty much the most sophisticated steering wheel ever the switches just need to be simple and robust and vibration proof and dust proof and where you going to find those you’re gonna find them in a build as merchants so the guys literally say to get out of being cute try all of the drills see which one you like the feel off try them all they look to me a bit weird as I’m going like trying all these triggers in black & decker works for me so they ordered a couple of out of the catalogue and that’s where they came from then in front of your feet you’ve got the throttle pedal for the world’s most advanced military jet fighter engine is sitting behind your head that’s under your right foot and under your left foot is the brake pedal for the front wheel brakes those steel discs and the very simple logic the cockpit is that down the right-hand side of the cockpit is all the stuff that is involved in making the cargo so all the switches down the right involved from the jet the rock etc controlling all the power systems and the left hand screen is all about stopping so brake pressures and the control systems electrics and all the switches that control things like it breaks the electrics the hydraulics are on the left and of course the parachute buttons on the float and the levers on the left off of the parachutes please don’t pull those the parachutes on like yeah okay right before I touch and disturb anything else I think I’d better get out of here right we’ve got this huge air intake two questions what is it one why is it the shape it is and B if it was bigger wouldn’t you get more air in to take those in reverse order if it was bigger yes we could put more air in there but of course what we what we need is not maximum thrust off the line very cool though it is to pull away with a massive drags to start actually this is pretty quick off the line anyway more importantly we need maximum thrust we’ve we’ve got maximum drag at supersonic speeds so this intake is designed to capture the exactly the right amount of air at eight hundred miles an hour so I’m at one point one so it’s sized for the air tailing in here at eight hundred miles an hour to be exactly what the jet engine needs it’s a little bit small below that it’s a little bit big above that but it’s optimized for that speed to give us maximum power right at that point where we need it the reason for the shape here is that we’re using the cockpit is actually shaped as an intake ramp so there are a series of complex shockwaves at supersonic speeds which actually decelerate the air down to you know it’s doing a thousand miles an hour out here and it’s doing 500 miles an hour when it gets down to here set up a huge deceleration of air to go down the intake because jet engines must have compressed subsonic air getting to them and Paula this is this a polycarbonate windscreen yes it is it’s it’s actually a double layer it’s the same thickness give or take a millimeter as is used in the Eurofighter Typhoon it’s actually two layers bonded together and that gives it a phenomenal strength I mean this will take a you know a kilo of bird at you know 1,000 miles an hour it basically bounced off I won’t do the rest of the car any good because often goes straight down the jet engine so there’ll be a loud bang at that stage but nonetheless in terms of protecting me from pretty much anything that the desert could throw at us literally this has been modeled to the same standard as the very best jet fighters in the world now the other thing that strikes me here is I can’t see the engine I can see an intake how far down is it before you get to the engine the intake tube itself is actually quite long it starts off in this strange upside-down mouth shape and gradually turns to a round shape way back down here where it actually then joins on to the front of the engine I’ll show you artists you never look right so if we work down the side of the car well first of all what’s this it looks like a cooling duct exactly that we’ve got cooling ducts down both sides they actually put cooling air into the bottom end of the engine bay fantastic but we’re not under start the engine you know yes so got a fair way to go yeah we got to get it before that’s a bit further it’s actually behind the fin intake we’re about there about here jet engines about there it’s actually it’s a very short very compact very powerful jet engine big long intake and all other powers made at the back of the back of the car Wow does that have anything does that affect the well aid the weight distribution of the car be how it the pit might pitch or dive under acceleration for it’s great questions and it was one of the key things that we spent a lot of time looking at early in the design the initial thought was jet engines gonna be the heaviest single component the car it’s got to go at the bottom obviously keep the center of gravity nice down low the problems involved with that first of all it’s the bulkiest bit of the car so it’s now left you almost no room for the rear suspension and also the fact you were taking the intake at the top end of the car and having to bend it down through a big s bend to get down to the jet engine at the bottom the other problem with that is you then finish up matching the rocket on top of it and where the jet engine runs continuously pretty much throughout the run when you then running along the ground and you fire the rocket sitting at the top it kicks the tail up quite dramatically I mean you stopped firing it telling you you know there’s a whole bunch of pitching there which is less than desirable at supersonic speeds it was one of our senior design engineers I said let’s just have a look what do the unthinkable put the heavy bit at the top so swap them round central gravity first of all has that it moves it up about that much so we’d like to have it lower but let’s look at all the positives you’ve now got straight through run for the intake which is all good you avoid making a hole in the structural center of the car so you don’t have to worry about running the intake tube which is all good so the rocket is now sitting you know in a line just underneath the center of gravity so now running at high speed fire the rocket it makes the back end squat down very slightly which is good and when we more importantly when we stop firing it there’s a very slight release on the on the back end but it’s not significant a much smaller pitching so we don’t get anywhere near the disturbances firing and then shutting down the rocket with it this way round right so engines in here air brake why is it got all the holes in it yeah very good question if you take just a solid lump of carbon and push it out you will first you’ll generate a live load which is good because it’s designed to slow the car down but you’ll also finish up with as the air breaks away around the back end you’ll finish up with these huge vortices being shed it will be quite violent and unstable action so you’ll get big fluctuations in the airflow around the air brake and more importantly everything downstream of the air brake which includes the rear wheels and suspension they all be an awful lot of buffeting from massive load changes down at the back end of the car which we want to avoid through a whole bunch of holes you finish up with instead of one huge great vortex creating all the drag from the air brake you finish up with lots of little ones each one of which is not very energetic and they tend to interfere with and cancel each other out this little piece of metal I understand sits used to sit here and was a flat piece of metal but it was the dust and airflow at four hundred and fifty miles an hour that bent a piece of steel into that how does how does that work it’s actually slightly worse than you think the first bits we’ve bent were actually titanium they weren’t designed to be you know damaged and they weren’t designed to be disposable but it turned out they were just taking such a battering what’s actually happening if you look all the way down the car to where the front wheel is way up there the front wheel is throwing up the spray of clay and dust and silt and fine sand particles and they are tearing back down in the 500 plus mile an hour air flow coming back down their fuselage and it’s being thrown up just high enough to kiss the bottom end of the bodywork underneath the bodywork is its eroded the paint away as a result but that’s fine it’s just skimming the bodywork then it comes to a sudden stop in this corner now everything uh MacLeish sharp corners are never good the sharp corner however works really well at supersonic speeds it’s designed for next year’s car but for this year’s car as the sand hits there it then suddenly hammers into this corner and starts battering away at the metal and that piece of metal used to sit there and literally it just crumpled all right up it’s just the mass of the desert being thrown up into it at very high speeds and the hole runs only what 90 seconds long so exactly this it’s equipped it’s a quick process and it really surprised us just how powerful that was we then looked at some very detailed aerodynamic modeling from Swansea University and said can you look at 500 miles an hour air flow from front wheels wears it and did they sure enough they said it impact right here and you can actually see the dust trace here now she comes up up the side of the body worked and it’s very localized look at the pull rod completely stripped to paint and it’s gone rusty and on their journey back look at the wishbone just above it paints completely untouched it’s a very very localized effect just on this little bit starting down here okay so the rear wheel I’m getting it’s solid aluminium tell me more auto folks forged a two hundred and fifty kilo block of aluminium just under four hundred centigrade to a massive great what they call cheese it’s just like a huge cheese it’s that it was then rushed by top gear as it happens the very first one was rushed from Germany all the way up to Glasgow to castle precision where they started machining the first of the wheels and machined it down to a 90 kilo piece of aluminium which is designed ultimately to be able to rotate at over 10,000 revolutions a minute and more scarily at 10,000 revs a minute that’s 170 revolutions per second this is the fastest wheel in the world by a long way the wheel rim is pulling 50,000 times the force of gravity right coming around to the business end end of the jet engine obviously and I can see the fans down there where do you light it for the afterburner cuz obviously we saw all the cones of flame coming out where does the extra fuel get invite injected for that without the actual core of the engine is tiny you know the engines only four meters long the front half is all of the fans and stuff the back off a bit you’re looking is actually the flame holder for the reheat so those fingers sitting back there is actually where the fuel flows in and catches fire to produce the the flame pattern which finishes up that massive grate and a carrot orange carrot sticking out the back yeah which is the reheated air coming out of the back end of the jet engine basically just increasing the power of turbines running absolutely flat out already it’s going as fast as it can to get more power out of that you’ve additionally hate you after burn burn after the engine or the the British term is to reheat the air by putting leak fuel in where those fingers are and just setting fire to it creating even higher temperature higher pressure more thrust and how much more thrust it goes from around six tons of force so sixty kilonewtons all the way up to ninety kilonewtons so it’s a 50% increase might be gained that’s the going these are the parachute holders you’ve got two of them yeah but I think during most of runs you were only using one of them is that right yeah exactly right one parachute is more than enough to stop the car in the same way that the the jet engine produces an extra 60 60 kilonewtons of thrust dry this will produce 60 kilonewtons of drag to slow the contacts that’s a 6-ton drag load in addition to the aerodynamic drag on the car now to come to the bit that’s missing which is this hole here for next year hopefully we’ll have a rocket have the rocket motor now I just wanted you to talk me through the rocket motor because I know the basics but the figures is sounds so baffling I want you to tell me about them the rocket is the most extraordinary most simple device I mean just in terms of sheer size now the rocket motor the actual motor comes in two parts the catalyst pack which breaks down the hydrogen peroxide and then the nozzle that actually directs the flow so the catalyst pack basically the same sort of size as this hole it’s about that thick and then you get the nozzle spreading out like big sort of cone-shaped thing on the end and the whole motor is only about this big about that budget tiny tiny bit of kick now obviously we’ve got pumps and the electric motor and the battery pack further up the car the actual motor itself is being fed concentrated hydrogen peroxide high-test peroxide and that’s water with an extra oxygen at and bolting on h2 o2 comes through these multiple layers of silver oxide catalyst that breaks down the water it splits the molecule to water and oxygen and a lot of energy so it actually generates steam and oxygen at 600 centigrade feed it through this nozzle and it accelerates the flow up to Mach 3 it’s over two thousand miles an hour this jetty flex comes out in space so it’s going from nothing to that much because it goes from liquid as it comes in here but you max three that steam and oxygen coming out of the other that much space in that much space and that will give us on a button press pretty much instantaneously an extra six tons of thrust on top of the nine tons we’ve already got from the jet engine right that’s the bit where the car takes off Wow so yeah and you were going to use a Formula one engine to pump and it originally gonna use a Formula one engine to pump that fuel into the back of the catalyst pack you’re now going to use electric motors exactly right 12 years ago when we launched this car we wanted I was very keen to use electrics it’s all sorts of advantages 12v is awful long time in the in the electric car world when you look at how formularies come on in the last decade how hybrid and fully electric cars the technology just didn’t exist twelve years ago now it does it’s off-the-shelf so we can get a 500 horsepower electric motor and the battery pack is basically the sort of size of an airline carry-on bag can give you enough power to run that motor 500 horsepower for 25 seconds to pump the ton of hydrogen peroxide through that rocket motor that will give us all that extra thrust and the astonishing thing as I found out you can then recharge that battery in about a minute you can feed the power back in as fast as you take it out it’s a Oh ordinary so all of a sudden the turn round it starts to look really really simple and more importantly we are using next-generation space launch technology we are using very much cutting-edge and next-generation automotive technology in an end-to-end zero missions green rocket system that takes electricity and hydrogen peroxide and fires out steam and oxygen into the atmosphere at the other end and generates six tons of thrust doing it what’s not to like you