Bloodhound car panels excel at ballistic tests

The Bloodhound team is conducting ballistic testing ahead of the world land speed record attempt in South Africa.
The design and build of the Bloodhound Supersonic car is in the final stages before heading to South Africa to challenge the world land speed record.

Morgan Advanced Materials has conducted specialist ballistic testing on the panels it has provided to form part of the driver cockpit.

The lightweight composite armour panels are fitted to the carbon fibre 'monocoque' – a rigid cell in which driver Andy Green will sit. It is shaped to provide optimum aerodynamics as well as efficient air intake. Located at both port and starboard, panels will protect the driver from shale or debris from the ground or the solid aluminium wheels.

The Bloodhound Team validate the ballistic testing at Morgan's Coventry site. Testing consisted of a 20mm fragment simulating projectile, representative of the largest section of wheel that could potentially detach during the run. Aiming to withstand an energy rating of 22kJ – equivalent to a cricket ball travelling at 1,175mph – the projectile was to be fired at 980m/s (2,000mph); faster than required.

The panels contain millions of woven glass fibres. At the point of impact, the layers will begin to fray as they absorb the energy. As each fibre breaks, it takes energy away from the projectile, to stop it penetrating further, risking injury to the driver.

Conor La Grue of the Bloodhound team added: "As the panel has been designed with a slight, yet complex curvature, it has performed better than expected under this robust testing. It has exceeded the targets set, proving its performance at 29kJ energy rating, which is an important box ticked in the final stages of preparation. In the end, the projectile was fired at 2,300mph meaning we can go into trials and eventually the record attempt itself with the confidence that Andy will be safe from high-speed projectiles."

Caroline Hayes

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I feel sure that at the moment the rocket engine is fired the vehicle will fly out of control due to unresolved dynamic forces such as can be clearly seen acting on various cars such as Caduceus, Bluebird and Green Monster. The effect is even more noticeable in film of Cobb, Campbell, Arfons and other jet boat crashes.

Comment Rose White, 02/04/2015

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