Supersonic speed aims to inspire

A supersonic land vehicle, currently in development in Britain, aims to go faster than 1 000 mph. More importantly, it seeks to inspire the next generation to get involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Atlas Copco’s equipment proves invaluable in the project.

The British Bloodhound SSC (Supersonic Car) project is a global engineering adventure that aims at not only setting a new world record for land speed, currently at 763 mph (1 228 km/h), but actually breaking the dream barrier of 1 000 mph (1 610 km/h). An even more important objective of this iconic research and development project, however, is to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Atlas Copco a perfect fit

Atlas Copco is providing an array of products to the project, including wrenches, grinders, pneumatic drills, compressors, air receivers, filtration and pipework.

Bloodhound SSC is approximately 13.4m long and weighs 7.5 tonnes

The supersonic car itself is the result of mixing car, aircraft and rocket technology. It is 13.4 meters long and weighs eight tons. The front section reminds you of a racing car, while the back looks more like an aircraft. It’s powered by both a jet engine and a rocket. As Atlas Copco’s tools are already used to manufacture automobiles, jet planes and spaceships, they fit perfectly for building the Bloodhound SSC.

“We have supported the project by providing their workshop in Bristol, England, with a full range of assembly tools, as well as compressed air equipment,”says Jamie Buckling, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Atlas Copco Tools in the UK. “Our top-of-the-line equipment gives their engineers the accuracy and control needed for this kind of extreme technology. For instance, our smart tools ensure that you get the right torque values every time. One of the compressors is used to ‘dry’ actuate the car’s jet engine.”

Breaking the sound barrier

Chris Dee, Lead Assembly and Build Engineer for the Bloodhound SSC project, says Atlas Copco’s contribution to the project’s workshop equipment has proved invaluable. “We have been using their tools for over four years to apply the precision loads required to build a car that will travel at 1 000 mph,” he says. “This has extended not only to the headline items like the wheels, but also in the systems area to torque printed circuit boards that will see heavy vibrations. We have also used Atlas Copco compressors and air tools to allow us to precision fit the panels of the car, some of which will see exceptional loads.”

At the end of October 2017, the project’s driver Andy Green – incidentally, the holder of the current land speed world record – took the Bloodhound SSC for its first test runs held at Cornwall Newquay Airport, in the South of England. The tests went well and marked an important milestone for the project. The current timeline states that 500 mph high-speed runs will take place in the South African desert in October 2018, record-breaking 800 mph runs will follow in 2019, and finally the 1 000 mph barrier will be broken in 2020.

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Image credit: Flock and Siemens