Specialist engineers from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre are celebrating their part in the successful test firing of the rocket designed to power the world’s first 1,000mph car.
Teams from the Catcliffe-based AMRC and local companies are developing a range of parts for Bloodhound SSC, former land speed record-breaker Richard Nobel’s bid to set a new landmark and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.
One AMRC team that attended the test firing in Cornwall was responsible for incorporating strain gauges in the thrust ring assembly that attaches the rocket to the car and was also part of the rocket test.
The gauges enabled the Bloodhound team to measure the way the metal of the thrust ring stretched under the force from the rocket and collect a wealth of data on the rocket’s performance.
The AMRC will now make a new steel thrust ring, incorporating similar gauges that will be used in further tests and on the completed car.
Leading the AMRC team was Phil Spiers, head of the AMRC Advanced Structural Testing Centre, who is one of several key AMRC researchers who were inspired to become engineers by Richard Noble’s earlier land speed record successes.
“I was 13 years old when Richard Noble brought the land speed record back to the UK,” says Mr Spiers.
“When the Bloodhound project was formed, I was keen to be involved and trained as a STEM ambassador to help spread the message about the benefit of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“The important thing is to carry on inspiring kids in the same way that I was inspired. I firmly believe that without a good skills base and future engineers, the UK will not be able to compete.”
Phil Spiers says the big challenge for the Bloodhound team is to keep the force from the rocket aligned with the axis of the car to avoid it being pushed off line.
“The thrust ring is the part of the car that the rocket attaches to. When the rocket fires, the force it generates pushes back into the car through the thrust ring.
“What we’ve done is test the complete thrust ring assembly with a known load, and recorded the output. It’s particularly difficult to calibrate accurately, but we have done it,” added Mr Spiers.
The Bloodhound project has become a high-profile showcase for AMRC’s world-leading capabilities in applied manufacturing innovation.
In addition to manufacturing and calibrating the steel thrust ring that will be used in later tests as the rocket is brought up to full thrust levels, the centre is making the mounting plate and has been working with partner company Vibrant NDT on evaluating carbon brake disks and front suspension joints.
The AMRC’s world-leading machining group has made a number of components, including parts for a gearbox, which is linked to a Cosworth F1 engine that is needed to pump up to 1.2 tonnes of fuel into the rocket in 20 seconds. Meanwhile, the AMRC and Nuclear AMRC are also producing the rear sub-frame.