How supersonic car will gain record 1000 mph speed decoded

Researchers may have cracked the formula by which a supersonic car (SSC) capable of reaching a record speed of 1,000mph (1,600 kmph) will cope with the aerodynamic characteristics of travelling that fast.

Simulations by researchers from the Swansea University look at how the car will deal with the supersonic rolling ground, rotating wheels and resulting shock waves in close proximity to the test surface at the record attempt site in Hakskeen Pan, South Africa.

While as the car will make high speed test runs of up to 800mph in 2015, the full 1,000mph attempt has been scheduled for 2016.  In order for a ground vehicle to travel at over 1,000mph (approximately Mach 1.3), the designers have created the most advanced fusion of space, aeronautical and Formula 1 engineering ever attempted.

“The BLOODHOUND supersonic car (SSC) is the most exciting and dynamic engineering challenge going on today,” the engineers said. Clearly, the aerodynamic challenges associated with developing a land–based vehicle capable of safely travelling at transonic speeds are great.

Drag minimisation and vertical aerodynamic force control are of paramount importance for a safe record attempt on the constrained distance of 12 miles available at the record attempt site.

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been chosen as the primary tool to guide the aerodynamic design of the vehicle. Dr Ben Evans and Chris Rose’s work on the computational fluid dynamics of the project, developing models of the aerodynamic flows that BLOODHOUND will experience, helps guide the vehicle design.

“These computational models have already influenced significant design aspects of BLOODHOUND including the front wheel configuration, the shape of the nose, the jet engine intake shaping, rear wheel fairings and wing shape and size.

The CFD modelling continues to be one of the dominant tools used to develop the surface geometry of BLOODHOUND,” said Evans. The sheer audacious ambition of increasing the current LSR by over 30 per cent meant that the BLOODHOUND design team had to start from scratch and not only design a new type of LSR vehicle, but also develop a whole new way of thinking.

Their investigations into the issue of how to keep the vehicle grounded led to an unexpected discovery that the problem was more difficult to deal with at the rear of the car, rather than keeping the nose down at the front.

“A series of unsteady simulations will also be carried out in order to determine the unsteady response of the vehicle, particularly in conditions such as deceleration with airbrakes deployed,” the engineers said. The research paper was published in the Journal of Automobile Engineering.
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