back to article Rolls-Royce climbs aboard Bloodhound SUPERSONIC car

Rolls-Royce has announced it will back the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car (SSC), despite the company's "pretty robust policy about using our power plants in applications for which they were not designed". Bloodhound will be partially powered by a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, normally found giving the Eurofighter-Typhoon a powerful …

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  1. frank ly

    re. proverbial brown stuff off a shovel

    I'm sure this was never mentioned in Proverbs. I think Aesop made reference to it, so perhaps it should be 'fabulous brown stuff ..."

    1. Matthew 25
      Boffin

      Re: re. proverbial brown stuff off a shovel

      I've never understood this saying. The proverbial brown stuff is usually sloppy and sticky. When it comes off the shovel is usually slowly and incompletely and hard to achieve. Goggles because, well you don't want it in your eye do you?

      1. taxman
        Thumb Up

        Re:proverbial brown stuff off a shovel

        The proverbial brown stuff is usually sloppy and sticky.

        Not when you're working an allotment. It's lovely firm and crumbly stuff. Mind, there's a significant difference between bovine, horse and goat. Goat can be very hard if left to dry out and really need a lot of other matter mixed in with it - as can be bovine. Hores is good, tends to remain moist.

        But which ever is used, it does slip off real niced and smooth.

        Oh, and it's great to have a rocket car named after one of our best anti aircraft missiles (which is odd seeing as the car will be using an aircraft engine as a starter!)

        1. Dave Bennett

          Re: Re:proverbial brown stuff off a shovel

          Hores? Good god man I hope you missed an 's' rather than a 'W'...?

        2. Euripides Pants
          Thumb Up

          Re: Re:proverbial brown stuff off a shovel

          taxman knows his sh!t

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lucky

    That Richard Noble found a new backer, he alienated so many people and had a serious funding shortfall that the project was almost dead in the water....

    Well done Rolls Royce, now maybe Richard Noble will show a little more humility in the future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lucky

      People like him often do alienate other people. But the fact remains that despite all the odds he managed to get his supersonic car built and proved that it worked.

      In the US he would be running a multibillion dollar company that had been a startup not that many years ago. In the UK, people like him aren't allowed into the Establishment (think Branson). That, far more than fantasies about EU domination or immigration, is why we aren't as rich as New England.

      1. Not That Andrew

        @ribosome Re: Lucky

        Sir Richard Branson (note the knighthood) has been part of the Establishment for years. And being an abrasive arsehole shouldn't give you some sort of free ride.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ribosome Lucky

          Er, no. Branson had to fight the establishment. First he wasn't good enough to run an airline, then a railway, then a bank. Then they tried to take his railway away from him and give it to someone who was in better with the Government. Then the company that they preferred to take over the Lloyds branches pulled out because, guess what, they were as badly run as the other banks and didn't have the money.

          Being an abrasive arsehole should not give you a free ride. Being an abrasive arsehole because in fact you are right and you get nothing but obstruction from believers in the embedded negative - that's being an engine of progress.

          One of my MDs complained that I "kept sticking my head up above the parapet" with his bosses. I argued that if the head of R&D didn't have the nerve to tell people what was and wasn't possible, what was he for?

          "Sir" puts you up with headteachers and mid-ranking diplomats. I'm sure that Lord Sugar could enlighten you on the subject.

    2. Steven Raith
      WTF?

      Re: Lucky

      Who did he alienate, and how?

      I'd google it, but about to go to work, natch. El Reg Forums, edumacate me while I toddle off to install a server....

      Steven R

    3. OzBob
      Devil

      Re: Lucky

      Yep, because all the Britons that regularly appear in popular Top 10s were real supporters of the status quo and Appeasement (like Churchill, Diana, Cromwell, Turing, Branson, Brunel, etc all)

      Seriously, do you even bother pretending not to goose-step down the corridors at work?

    4. Brenda McViking
      Thumb Up

      Re: Lucky

      Lucky? Rubbish. You make your own luck.

      Guess what - going around begging, borrowing and insistantly bugging people for free equipment, money and hours does alienate you from certain people - that's what he does. He did it for Thrust 2, and was successful. He did it for Thurst SSC, and was successful. Now he is doing it for Bloodhound SSC.

      This is a project being down on a shoestring budget of a few million pounds. Serious funding shortfall? what the hell are you expecting? a surplus?! This is entirely funded by sponsors - and each and every sponsor wants their own say in things. I've blown a million on an engineering project in less than 3 months with fewer than 3 full time engineers working on things. doing a project of this scale with virtually nothing is damn hard. Who else has the balls to go and do this - a proper, cutting edge engineering project, pushing the known boundaries of what anyone else has done, on a shoestring budget, getting as many kids involved as possible in learning about STEM subjects?

      And you want humility? Please, Mr A/C 06:53GMT, what have you done that has inspired people? Did you phone me, aged 8, from the Black Rock Desert, saying "We've done it, we've broke the sound barrier?" Didn't think so. Richard Noble, on the other hand, did.

      I'm an engineer now, working for a company that now sponsor Bloodhound, and let me tell you, he had a lot to do with my current career path. We need more people like Noble, not less, or people like me will say "sod engineering, I can make money in banking." Engineering NEEDS projects like this, projects that fire up the imagniations of kids, that are cool, that push the boundaries. Apollo created a generation of Engineers. It's been far too thin on the ground since, and the engineers are all retiring. So, Mr A/C 06:53, consider yourself completely alienated from the likes of me - I don't share your opinions one little bit.

      1. PT
        Thumb Up

        Re: Lucky

        Well said, Brenda McViking. AC 6:53, Richard Noble has not been blessed by luck, but by tenacity. I was a team member for Thrust 2 and saw the incredible difficulties he went through to maintain funding for the project - all while under the pressure of risking his life on a daily basis behind the wheel. If you had been there - two years running - you would know the only "luck" Richard had was bad. He kept the funds flowing and the team morale high through sheer force of personality. I was in the Black Rock Desert for Thrust SSC also, and heard the sonic booms. He was not the driver and was free to exercise his formidable organizing ability, and the Thrust SSC operation ran like clockwork, while a few miles away on the same desert at the same time, former record holder Craig Breedlove was disorganized to the extent that he was scarcely able to get the engine started on his million-dollar project. Incidentally, if you had been there - on either occasion - you would not presume to lecture him about humility. But like everyone, he has a private and a public face, and when he's in "project mode" he is effectively on stage.

        Ok, I'm biased, I like him. But Richard Noble is one of those people who doesn't know what can't be done. We need more like him.

        1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

          Re: Lucky

          It's not fair, actually knowing what you're talking about. It's much better to slag someone off because someone you met in a pub knew someone on Facebook that said they killed kittens for fun.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Want One

      I think a lot of El Reg readers would love to give you the chance. Especially if it should really lose ground contact and start flying...

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Want One

        I was at a Thrust SSC presentation a while back, with Noble & Green, and they were asked a "what it something goes wrong?" type question.

        The answer was rather simple - lift the tail up an inch or two (or whatever) and then wet your pants while the car slows down. What lifting the tail does is basically keep it on the ground. They basically reckon that if the car goes airborne, then Mr Green becomes strawberry jam when it comes back down. So they lift the tail while he tries to keep it going in a straight line. I imagine parachutes would be deployed to try and slow down a bit quicker, too, as the brakes aren't that useful at 700mph.

        It was a fascinating presentation, though.

        1. rh587 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Want One

          My Dad works at JCB and got in on a talk Andy Green did (as he drove their Dieselmax streamliner for them). His summation of Thrust SSC was that it was basically the same as the Tornado he flies for a living minus the wings. As far as design and aero goes you're in a very low flying plane with the wheels touching the ground just enough that it counts as a car for record purposes (and you don't take off), without overdoing the downforce so much that you blow the tyres (though obviously Bloodhound is going with solid wheels).

          He wouldn't fly a Tornado that close to the ground at 700-1000mph for fairly obvious reasons, yet that is exactly what they aim to do with these LSR beasts!

          Nerves of steel that man.

          1. rh587 Silver badge

            Re: Want One

            And derp, Thrust SSC didn' have tyres, but aluminium allloy wheels. Still excessive downforce would break stuff, or drive it into the ground.

            I gather Dieselmax made a nice change of pace, getting to tootle round at a relatively sedate 350mph!

            Tis wheel-driven that one as well, so a proper car (The Dieselmax team limited their effort to cracking 350 precisely because of the difficulty of finding appropriate tyres. They want a crack at 400 if they can get some rubber that will be safe).

  4. Geoff Campbell
    Meh

    I'm not sure what the point it.

    I'm a huge, huge fan of all things automotive. Just up the road from me there is the Pendine Museum of Speed, whose primary exhibit is Babs, a land speed record car from the '30s. It is a thing of absolute beauty, and I often drive up there of a weekend just to stand and gaze.

    But what was the point of land speed records once they stopped being driven wheel cars and bikes? Anything with a jet or rocket engine is just a very low flying aeroplane, and we know how fast they can go.

    All seems a bit pointless to me. Still, more power to them, I guess.

    GJC

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      If you want to see Babs at the moment (for a few more weeks at least) then she is at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea complete with quite a lot of information panels. I walk past her a dozen times a day :-D

      M.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

        Oh, and (sorry for replying to my own post), speaking of my place of work (am I allowed to do that?), we have a "science show" this coming Sunday afternoon (the 19th) by members of the Bloodhound team. Come in droves - it's free entry.

        Waterfront Museum: SA1 3RD

        http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=6387

        M.

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Bloodhound @ Swansea

          That might be fun - I need to take the bike out ("Just circulating the oil, Dear. Yes, it's vital, sorry, I'd love to stay and help with cutting the lawn, but needs must."), seems like that might be a fun destination.

          GJC

      2. Geoff Campbell

        Re: Babs in Swansea

        Yes, as I discovered just last weekend. Still there are a few nice bikes and things in Pendine even so :-)

        GJC

        1. Pete4000uk

          Re: Babs in Swansea

          I remember steering my brothers car down the beach there at about 60 in a 30 or something zone. Half way down the beach a police 4x4 passed us doing about 80.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Babs in Swansea

            I didn't realise Swansea Bay now has a 30mph speed limit on the beach... Talk about PC gone mad!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      Thing is, it's a very tricky job to create a very low flying 'plane which doesn't become a flying 'plane or a tunnel boring machine. The forces at play are simply astounding.

      Also, the Bloodhound project are supporting STEM programmes in schools as part of the plan.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

        In effect, it is a small engineering project which kids can get their heads around and yet is doing genuinely groundbreaking work.

        Most people haven't got a clue what happens at CERN (and I have to reread stuff periodically just to try and have an educated layman knowledge), but the Bloodhound project will also extend the limits of what we know.

    3. Essuu
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      Bloodhound is "an international education initiative focused on a 1,000 mph World Land Speed Record attempt" (to quote from their press release at http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/news/rolls-royce-backs-bloodhound)

      They're learning a lot about material behaviours at high speeds which will bring practical application in the future but the real goal is to inspire a new generation of engineers. They've already signed up over 5,000 schools reaching 2.5m children. Hopefully some of these will be encouraged to follow a science and engineering path.

      That alone is worth the attempt.

      1. Alex Rose

        Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

        "They've already signed up over 5,000 schools reaching 2.5m children. "

        I'll only support them once they stop this blatant discrimination and sign up schools that allow children of a more average height to join!

        1. I think so I am?
          Joke

          Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

          any shorter than 2.5m and the engineering will just go right over their heads

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

        They are learning chuff-all about materials and systems that isn't already perfectly well known to aeroplane and rocket designers. The whole thing is a pointless vanity project (see also: most modern "exploration") which is wasting a shit load of money which could have been used to do real science and engineering.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: I'm not sure what the point it. @Ian Johnston

          If it's all so well known, where is the documentation on the last *car* that did 1000mph so they can refer back to it? Would save a lot of time.

          Or how about a comparison with normal cars? The material science and systems have been well known about for years on those, and yet, every year, we get improved models.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      Well when you have such design issues as wheel strength, avoiding damage to the car from the sonic boom. There is definately some good points to look at.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        I was being supportive

        Why the downvote?

        Why is reasearch 1000mph wheels not important?

        Why is making a car survive a sonic boom hitting its underside not important?

        Thrust SSC was damaged by sonic booms

    5. David Cantrell
      Boffin

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      What's the point? What's the point of anything new and untried? Usually something useful comes of it. People ask what was the point of the Apollo programme, but it led to modern CNC machining, fire-retardant paint, cordless drills, and so on.

      And, no doubt, people enjoy doing it, which is worth far more than any useful tech spin-offs.

    6. Don Jefe
      Happy

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      Attaching jets and rockets to anything that is not a jet or rocket is its own point. It's just cool.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

        "It's just cool."

        Speaking of which, here's a five minute video of a man running up an RB211 in his back yard (the toy engine at the start is the APU, used to start its bigger brother):

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM7ksfRVF70

        It's perhaps not as exciting as a military engine at full power, but nonetheless...

    7. OzBob

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      We've landed on the moon; check. We've broken the sound barrier on land; check.

      In the words (probably poached) of one Apollo astronaut; " the mind is not a vessel to be filled; its a fire to be lit".

      Forget us, we're old, cynical and past our prime. Who will push the engineering boundaries 30 years from now, and from where will they receive that inspiration? I hate to admit it but Whitney was right "The children are our future".

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

        Whitney was right "The children are our future"

        What did Pratt say?

    8. phuzz Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      There's one other reason:

      The fact that the land speed record belongs to a Brit rather than an Yank pisses off (some) Yanks so much.

      1. Geoff Campbell
        Thumb Up

        Re: @phuzz

        You make a compelling point. I'm in.

        GJC

    9. itzman
      Alien

      Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

      well the basic idea is to turn it into a high speed train powered by wet cow farts.

      Obviously.

  5. GrumpyOldMan
    Thumb Up

    Can't wait...

    Been following Bloodhound for a while now - I'd give my right arm to work on this project. Great to see RR getting behind it - if anyone knows jet engines it's them. There are some really big technical barriers here simply with the sheer forces involved. The centrifugal forces on the wheel rims alone at that speed are measured in tons I seem to recall. And the fuel pump engine - WOW!

    And they're British! Rah Rah!!

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Can't wait...

      I know someone who is.

      Got pictures of my twins at one of their shows which their relative.

    2. 23de3d3e34
      Happy

      Re: Can't wait...

      from what i know they are using an F1 car engine just for the fuel pump

      1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Re: Can't wait...

        Yup, the hybrid motor uses a Cosworth CA2010 F1 engine for the HTP oxidiser.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice to see Rolls-Royce on board...

    It's good to see a major manufacturing firm supporting this project. RR have mentioned in the original BBC article that their interest is to help build a new generation of engineers via the supporting educational programme (in addition to RR's own apprentice schemes).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boring

    When they stopped being wheel driven I gave up caring.

    Go and see Donald Campbell's Bluebird, that is a thing of beauty.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Campbell#Land_Speed_Record_Attempt

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Boring

      Not boring as such but once everyone went jet/rocket powered, the incentive to try with an internal combustion engine must have really dropped off.

      After all they could have just sawn the wings off the Saunders-Roe SR.53 of 1957 put wheels underneath and tried the same thing in the early 60s. Actually that probably would have ended in a right mess....

    2. No, I will not fix your computer
      Stop

      Re: Boring

      >>When they stopped being wheel driven I gave up caring.

      Do you mean since last year? this was the last wheel driven world record, just different categories now (e.g. piston driven etc.), although they have barely improved the speed more than 50mph in the last 50 years.

      Electric going over 300mph was cool (3 years ago?), fastest diesel also cool - British btw (350mph?)

      Loads of different categories, loads of reasons to still care, or not - your choice.

  8. Annihilator Silver badge
    Go

    Interface (Verb)

    "Bloodhound boffins are making sure it'll interface properly with the car"

    In this context does that mean "not shear off the car and career off into the sky like an out of control massive firework"?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Interface (Verb)

      That's one interpretation, yes.

      1. Michael Thibault
        Mushroom

        Re: Interface (Verb)

        I wonder if they've considered that when push comes to kablooey, it might make some sense to take advantage of the kit's inclination to reach for the stars, as using an ejection seat will be much, much more fun--and way, way cooler--from altitude.

    2. John Robson Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Interface (Verb)

      No - it means make it think it's in a plane.

      Oh, and don't let the avionics decide that at zero feet above ground level you've crashed, and should therefore shut down the engine...

      1. John Sager

        Re: Interface (Verb)

        Odd that the EJ200 is specific to the Eurofighter. Usually jet engines have a wider range of use cases. I would have expected some kind of common interface API to the engine management unit, with a specific set of control algorithms for the Eurofighter which can be reprogrammed for other kit. But then I'm a software & networking guy so I tend to think in those terms.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Interface (Verb)

          As a software and networking guy myself, the idea of adding more layers of complexity to the stuff that controls a jet engine fills me with horror. I am currently looking at the most godawful code kludge which is someone's idea of an API mediated by wsdl, and the idea that your engine management system might suddenly return one of the 20 error codes that seems to be needed by these things and then the other system has to be in a state to handle it gracefully - erk. An incomprehensible error message returned to some hapless helpdesk operative doesn't have quite the same capacity for excremental turbine collision.

          This problem has been in the public domain since the API failed so catastrophically in 2001 with the error message "I'm sorry, Dave, I can't allow you to do that", and the wetware ended up having to do a software and hardware reconfiguration job on a running system.

          I hope that the codebase is as small as possible, runs in ROM and has loads of EDAC.

        2. A K Stiles Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Interface (Verb)

          IIRC, the EJ200 was designed specifically for the EF2000 Eurofighter Typhoon (other random designation that it's had during its development cycle) with some semblance of thrust vectoring control based on the output of the flight computers. As such, the Bloodhound will therefore need to at least communicate with the engine in a way to control the vectoring, or at least prevent it from adding to the potential to launch the car skywards, or wind up looking like this icon.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Interface (Verb)

          "Usually jet engines have a wider range of use cases."

          In an ideal world, maybe.

          But in reality, it's rare for two kinds of (military) aircraft engine to have much in common. The engine control unit typically sits right on the engine so it has rather specific packaging and thermal requirements, for example. There's no "industry standard form factor" to choose (whereas there generally is for avionics in general, if there is no specific need to be engine mounted).

          Even in the commercial aircraft business, different engine families have different packaging requirements, even if the innards may share some common circuitry. In some cases, different airlines may have different software for one reason or another.

          That's the way it's been historically and realistically I'm not seeing a huge amount of reason for it to change in the foreseeable future.

        4. graeme leggett

          Re: Interface (Verb)

          "Odd that the EJ200 is specific to the Eurofighter"

          Historically several engines have been specific to one aircraft design eg this pair

          Orenda Iroquois - specific to Avro Canada Arrow, both cancelled in 1959

          Bristol Siddeley BS.100 - like the Pegasus used in the Harrier but on steroids - specific to the Hawker Siddeley P.1154 supersonic VSTOL design, but as with the Iroquois, knocked on the head when the aircraft was cancelled.

          1. No, I will not fix your computer
            Thumb Up

            Re: Interface (Verb)

            That said, you do have fantastically successful engines like the Olympus, powering Vulcans, Concorde plus many other non aircraft applications.

            1. Brian Morrison
              Boffin

              Re: Interface (Verb)

              The thing about those Olympus variants is that they are/were all different from each other.

              I particularly like the Olympus 593 Mk 610B as used on Concorde. At some point in the development process Bristol and SNECMA decided that they needed a contingency mode to add some thrust in the event of an engine failure on take off, the remaining engines would power up a bit by speeding up the core engine.

              There was a snag. The flame holder for the reheat flame was a bit too small, the extra thrust snuffed out the flame and there was an immediate 15-20% thrust reduction on *all* remaining engines on top of the missing 25% from the failed engine. Ooops!

              The fix was applied by SNECMA who were responsible for the reheat assembly, they added 7 welded-on sections of flame holder pointing inwards towards the engine central axis, these were just enough to prevent the snuff out and allow the extra thrust to be developed.

    3. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Interface (Verb)

      ...and is the bench it's strapped down to an integral part of this?

      1. Annihilator Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Interface (Verb)

        "...and is the bench it's strapped down to an integral part of this?"

        One would hope that they've thought to attach the bench to the floor with a couple of drawing pins or something.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Interface (Verb)

          "attach the bench to the floor with a couple of drawing pins or something."

          Can you type a bit louder, I can't hear you, the reheat's on.

          Blown the bloody doors off? How'd that happen?

      2. Montreal Sean

        Re: Interface (Verb)

        Nah, that one is being used to move people through the cafeteria a little faster.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boys are back

    1. Find local coppers

    2. Car seized under local anti hooning legislation

    3. Organise car being taken back to the impound.

    4.5 Light blue touch paper

    4. JOYRIDE! :-)

    ....hmmm Any ideas on how to avoid?

    5. Become one with the landscape

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Just be worried...

    Just be worried if you see them cutting the tread off the tyre with a kitchen knife and applying shoe polish, or ripping open a heating pad for the asbestos lining.

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