Triple-engined supersonic car may break land speed record in 2011

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London, July 2 (ANI): Researchers are developing a triple-engined supersonic car that will attempt to break the land speed record in 2011.

According to a report in New Scientist, the car is being developed by a team led by Richard Noble whose Thrust SSC has held the land speed record of 1221 km/h or Mach 1.02 since 1997.

Called the Bloodhound SSC, the car is designed to break the 1600 km/h barrier.

A rocket will boost the car to around 1200 kilometres per hour, (Mach 1) while a Eurofighter jet engine will provide more controllable thrust to coax it up to 1600 km/h (1000 miles per hour).

Finally, the car is equipped with a V12 petrol engine to pump the fuel and provide electrical and hydraulic power to the jet and rocket.

While the jet and petrol engines are well-established technologies, the team is building the rocket motor from scratch.

The engine is a hybrid design that uses liquid hydrogen peroxide as an oxidiser to burn solid polyethylene, the same stuff that plastic bags are made of.

Hydrogen peroxide is squirted into one end of a hole running down the centre of a cylinder of polyethylene, burning the plastic from the inside out.

This creates a supersonic flow of exhaust from the other end of the cylinder, which pushes the rocket forward. Changing the flow of hydrogen peroxide alters the thrust.

Last week, Noble announced that his team had completed the first tests of a 1/3-scale prototype rocket engine at a test site in the Mojave desert in California.

One way to judge the performance of a rocket engine is to examine the telltale diamond patterns in its exhaust which are formed by reflected supersonic shock waves.

"This first engine looks to be functioning very efficiently from the shape of the flame and the distinct Mach diamonds," said Adam Baker, an expert on hybrid rocket engines with Surrey Satellite Technology, a space technology company in Guildford, UK.

The next stage of the project may be more challenging.

"Scaling up hybrids can be difficult because the fluid flow inside the engine can change significantly as the size of the port in the fuel goes up," said Baker.

Tests of a larger hybrid engine are scheduled to start on July 2. (ANI)

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