March 2016

Innovation in the blood

Creating the world's fastest land vehicle presents unique design and build challenges - and Jaguar was keen to flex its muscles by coming on board as official innovation partner

Autumn saw the unveiling of the Bloodhound SSC, a supersonic car that will be used to attempt to break the world land-speed record in 2016. The 13.5m-long vehicle, powered by a Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine and a hybrid rocket, is the product of eight years of work by the Bloodhound Project team and includes technology from all over the world — including Jaguar Land Rover.

Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green with the Bloodhound SSC, a supersonic car. Jaguar Land Rover is a key collaborator on the Bloodhound SSC

As well as assisting with the development of the cockpit design, one of Jaguar's biggest challenges was working alongside the Bloodhound Project's chief engineer, Mark Chapman, to provide and integrate a 5.0-litre, 550PS, supercharged V8 engine into the Bloodhound SSC to drive the rocket's oxidiser pump.

This engine, which powers the fuel pump of the Nammo rocket system, is the same as that in one of the latest Jaguar cars — but the Bloodhound engineers faced some unique technical challenges with incorporating it into their own performance vehicle.

"The acceleration forces in the Bloodhound SSC are extremely high," says Peter French, chief engineer for powertrain systems at Jaguar Land Rover. "We had to design a dry sump attachment in order to keep oil flowing around the engine when G-forces at supersonic speed are moving the oil from the production oil pick-up point."

Fitting the complete pump system with dry sump was a big challenge. "We also needed to build a fail-safe clutch system which can disconnect fuel to the hydrogen peroxide pump if SSC has a hydraulic system failure," Mr French adds. "In addition, the space in which the engine is fitted — like everything in the Bloodhound SSC — is very confined. So every part needs to be minimised to prevent unnecessary weight. That's why we chose a chain drive system instead of the original proposal for a gear drive, using our learning from the all-wheel-drive system employed on the Jaguar F-Type."

The Bloodhound SSC will be tested at low speeds at Cornwall's Newquay Airport in the spring before making its way to South Africa's Hakskeen Pan desert where, on October 15, 2016, Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green hopes to surpass his previous best speed by reaching 800mph — 40mph above the speed of sound and 37mph faster than Green's current land-speed record.

The team then hopes to return in 2017 to see if it can get the Bloodhound SCC to reach its designed maximum speed of 1,050mph — that's a mile in just 3.6 seconds.

Safety first

Jaguar is also supporting the Bloodhound SSC's record attempts by providing three high-performance, rapid-response vehicles: an all-wheel-drive Jaguar F-Type R Coupé and two Jaguar XJRs.

"The XJRs have been modified at Jaguar's special vehicle operations workshop," says Peter French, chief engineer for powertrain systems at Jaguar Land Rover. "Jaguar engineers have created innovative solutions to allow installation of extensive emergency equipment, provided by Angloco. The bespoke fittings allow a wide range of essential equipment to be held securely during driving, but remain easy to access if required. 

"A unique roll cage was also created to ensure the Bloodhound support team and its equipment are as safe as possible when driving at high speeds on the loose desert surface."