Monday, June 16, 2014

News: AMRC at the forefront of the BLOODHOUND project

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BLOODHOUND SSC, the British engineering showcase, has unveiled the key front section, machined in Rotherham, of the car that aims to break the world land speed record by achieving the supersonic speed of 1,000mph.

The BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car (SSC) project also aims to inspire future generations to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by showcasing these subjects in the most exciting way possible.

The cockpit of the car was unveiled last week with the state-of-the-art carbon fibre monocoque tailored to the needs of driver Andy Green. It will be his supersonic office during record attempts in the South African desert in 2015 and 2016.

The structure weighs 200kg and bolts directly to the metallic rear chassis carrying the jet, rocket and racing car engine. The carbon front section will have to endure peak aerodynamic loads of up to three tonnes per square metre at 1,000mph (1,609kph) as well the considerable forces generated by the front wheels and suspension. It will also carry ballistic armour to protect the driver should a stone be thrown up by the front wheels at very high speeds.

It is the front suspension sub-assembly that relies on the manufacturing prowess of engineers at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham. Andy Green, the RAF pilot who will drive the car (pictured, top), called the section: "An extraordinary piece of extreme technology."

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the AMRC has more than 40 partner organisations, comprising world leaders in the aerospace supply chain, key government offices and international academic institutions. It identifies, researches and solves advanced manufacturing problems.

Working with CADCAM experts, Delcam, the AMRC machined the structural heart of the suspension, known as the "goats head," on two new CNC machines, putting in 151 working days. Made up of four huge five-axis machinings, that are made from super strength Aluminium alloy 7075 forgings, it will be the hardest working, land-based vehicle suspension component in human history. The wheels will be spinning at over 10,000rpm and the total suspension loads are designed to take over 30 tonnes at the front end.

The upper parts had a start weight of 313kg each but finished up weighing just 18kg each – 94% of the metal was removed. The lower two parts started at 149kg each and had 89% of the metal removed, ending up at 16kg each. Add all this together and the total start weight for the whole assembly was 924kg – yet the four parts of the assembly together now weigh just 68kg.

Richard Noble OBE, was in Rotherham last month to discuss the project and explained how it relies on sponsors and donations with some of the leading names in British engineering involved.

Conor La Grue, engineering lead - commercial for BLOODHOUND SSC (pictured, second right receiving the pieces), explained: "Both the material and the machining for this task have been fully sponsored. This is amazing when you consider that for the price of the materials, project management, programming, machining and inspection you could easily fill a not insignificant garage full of your favourite super cars.

"It's also amazing when you remember that this is just one key assembly of BLOODHOUND SSC and that this cost does not include the great work by our design team, which conceived the part in the first place, or our great assembly team that has to put it all together!"

Matt Farnsworth, technical fellow at the AMRC, added: "AMRC has always been a strong advocate of the BLOODHOUND project, not only because it is an exciting engineering challenge to go at 1,000 miles an hour but also because it is an opportunity to bring young engineers through by getting children interested in engineering.

"We've recently opened our training centre with 250 apprentices coming thorough that each year. The BLOODHOUND project has a lovely synergy with that initiative."

BLOODHOUND SSC website
AMRC website

Images: BLOODHOUND SSC

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