The Bloodhound Land Speed Record (LSR) team has confirmed plans to challenge for the world land speed record using a rocket powered by concentrated hydrogen peroxide. This will be used alongside the F-35 jet-fighter engine when the Bloodhound LSR car attempts to reach speeds above 800mph in South Africa in the autumn of next year.
After Bloodhound’s successful high-speed testing programme in the Kalahari Desert in November 2019, when the car reached a speed of 628mph, the vehicle has now returned to the UK Land Speed Record Centre, Bloodhound’s base in the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park, to be prepared for the next phase of the project.
Data analysis of the high-speed runs will be used to confirm its revised configuration, alongside research into minimising the environmental impact of the project. The main change to the car in preparation for the land speed record runs will be the addition of a rocket, supplied by Norwegian rocket specialist Nammo, to provide the extra thrust.
As part of a research programme for the European Space Agency, Nammo has designed a compact zero-emission rocket to be used as a launch motor to put small satellites into space. The size and power of this rocket makes it ideal for use with the Bloodhound LSR car.
The Nammo rocket uses concentrated hydrogen peroxide (water with an extra oxygen molecule – H2O2) as the oxidiser. This is pumped at high pressure through silver gauze, which acts as a catalyst, causing it to decompose into super-heated steam (at 600°C) and oxygen. The steam and oxygen are channelled through a nozzle to generate thrust. There is no fuel ‘combustion’ and therefore no flame nor any chemically harmful waste generated by the rocket.
Work is also underway to optimise the auxiliary power unit needed to pump the rocket’s oxidiser. Rather than the originally specified 550bhpV8 internal-combustion engine, this will be an electric motor and battery pack of comparable power, using recently developed technology.
The Bloodhound team (www.bloodhoundlsr.com) is also exploring the possibility of running the Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine on bio-fuel instead of Jet A fuel, further reducing the environmental impact of operating the car.