Keeping BLOODHOUND on track for world-class speed record

Author : HBM

11 May 2017

The BLOODHOUND Project was launched in 2008 with the aim of beating the current world record of 763 mph, set by Thrust SSC in the Arizona desert in 1997, when it became the first land-bound vehicle to exceed the speed of sound. BLOODHOUND aims to push the record above 1,000mph.


BLOODHOUND is powered by a Eurojet EJ200 engine, a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets, while a Jaguar V8 motor pumps oxidiser to the rocket. The car’s body, chassis and control systems rely on a range of advanced design and manufacturing techniques, such as those provided by The AMRC Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC), in Sheffield.

The ASTC is the testing and certification centre for the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). Accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), the ASTC is the only structural test facility within a UK university to hold ‘in house methods’ accreditation. Resultantly, it can develop new test procedures to prove components under real-world conditions. The ASTC forms a key part of the University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing, a world-class centre for advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

As part of its ongoing research towards the development of the BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car, the ASTC opted to utilise the MGCplus data acquisition system from HBM for a number of its test and measurement tasks on BLOODHOUND SSC, including load and displacement measurement, whilst testing rear pull-rod suspension component and front suspension roller bearings.

Suspension for a land speed record

Built to withstand extreme conditions, BLOODHOUND SSC’s suspension has been designed to cope with 30-tonne loads when the car reaches top speeds. By incorporating an independent double-wishbone suspension with pull-rods, this means that, like an F1 car, the wheels on BLOODHOUND SSC are supported by two horizontal V-shaped brackets. The weight of the car is then supported by a diagonal ‘pull-rod’ which is attached to the spring and damper unit. Each rear wheel and suspension assembly will be subject to several tonnes of drag load, which will physically shift the wheel back a couple of millimetres relative to the car.

Although the suspension is designed to take this rearward shift, it transpired during the test and design stage that traditional spherical ‘rose joint’ bearings would simply lock under the load. Consequently, the decision was made to use needle roller bearings. This means that the roller bearings will prevent the pull-rod moving backwards and forwards under the drag loads. The pull-rod is designed to flex very slightly to address this issue.

Keeping the suspension on the right track

As the suspension on BLOODHOUND SSC has to cope with gruelling loads (up to 30 tonnes at top speeds), ASTC was asked to accurately measure, log and analyse data relating to the defection of the suspension under load.

By strategically placing sensors at different points on the car to measure parameters, such as movement of parts, temperature and how much the suspension moved as the car was driving, signals were compared by HBM’s MGCplus data acquisition system with its stored calibrations, and a value for the property was calculated and recorded.

Confidence in data is a major benefit HBM data acquisition systems bring to challenging industry applications. The MGCplus is an adaptable system, which has gained acceptance as a measurement standard. It features the wide spectrum of supported transducers and standard PC interfaces that users demand from a leading measurement device. Fully configurable, the MGCplus is a flexible system which can be reprogrammed efficiently, providing traceable data at all stages. Following this success, ASTC will also deploy the Quantum X system from HBM for smaller, more flexible applications.

Conclusion

The immense load requirements and extreme environmental conditions surrounding BLOODHOUND SSC presented a challenge. However, thanks to HBM’s experience in vehicle testing and demanding fields, a flexible solution was developed that enabled ASTC to achieve the results required to ensure the BLOODHOUND Project stayed on track!


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