Supercars are high-powered vehicles capable of travelling far faster than traditional models.
One such supercar is the Bloodhound, currently being developed in Cornwall, England. Designed to go a thousand miles per hour, the concept has been described as part Formula One car, part jet engine.
It will attempt to break the land speed record next year, driven by Wing Commander Andy Green, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot who set the current record of 763 miles per hour in the Thrust SSC 20 years ago.
If completed the Bloodhound supercar will go faster than the speed of sound, covering a mile in just 3.6 seconds. The body of the car weighs 7.5 tonnes and blends cutting-edge Automotive and Aviation technology in a hybrid design.
The front section is built of carbon fibre, utilising technology from F1 racing cars, and the rear panels are taken from aircraft designs. The front of the supercar needs to take the aerodynamic load of 10 tonnes per square metre. At its thickest point the hull is made up of 13 layers of aluminium and carbon fibre.
The Bloodhound supercar will be powered by both a jet engine and a rocket, which will produce more than 135,000 horsepower, more than six times the combined horsepower of all the F1 cars on a starting grid. The jet engine is the Rolls Royce EJ200, used in the Eurofighter Typhoon. Half the thrust comes from this engine, which weighs a tonne and produces 9 tonnes of thrust, taking the car to 650 mph on its own. This engine was of course designed for a jet engine, not a car. Certain vehicle modifications ensure the engine shuts down if the digital control unit fails, and for the air intake to be pressure resistant to up to 1.7 Bar which equates to 26 pound-force per square inch.
The Bloodhound supercar will need 400 litres of fuel and 800 litres of rocket oxidiser. The auxiliary power unit will pump 9 gallons of oxidiser to the rocket every second. This oxidiser is very reactive, so any car parts that might come into contact with it must be made out of non-reactive materials that have been effectively pickled in an acid bath to protect them.
The rocket is a hybrid design, using a combination of propellants to give it such incredible speed, emerging out of the rocket at 3,000 degrees.
Now almost fully constructed, the Bloodhound Project team is seeking a £25 million investment to see the project through to completion. The final attempt would be made at a specifically-made track in South Africa.
The Bloodhound Ambassador Programme has encouraged young people to get into STEM fields and to consider engineering as a career. There is a vital shortage of engineers in the UK, and engineering is only going to become more important as our need for new technology increases on a financial and existential level.
The Bloodhound supercar attempt to set the new world record is slated for next year, but only if enough investment is secured. If the attempt does go ahead, it will represent a landmark for UK engineering and inspire a generation of new Automotive engineers to take on impossible challenges.