Morgan and Bloodhound gear up for land speed record attempt

Development work is speeding ahead at Morgan Advanced Materials (Morgan) on a series of ballistic protection panels for the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC).

Commissioned by the British-based Bloodhound team, which has the ambitious plan to to break the land speed record and 1,000mph mark in 2015, Morgan’s brief was to develop custom parts for various applications from the vehicle’s ‘nose to tail’. As a result, Morgan has created a bespoke solution for the cockpit and driver monocoque, using its unique capability to produce curved shape panels for ballistic protection.

Chris Pedlingham, lead engineer for commercial composites at Morgan commented: “Drawing on our decades of experience in both vehicle and personal protection solutions, we have developed a customised lightweight composite armour system which will protect the pilot from any debris picked up by the wheels. The specification for the protection panels is, however, different to any military standard as, travelling at more than 1,000mph, even tiny fragments of rock could become a dangerous projectile.

The ballistic panel designed by Morgan Advanced Materials for Bloodhound SSC
The ballistic panel designed by Morgan Advanced Materials for Bloodhound SSC

“Using our knowledge of ultra-lightweight protective components, we developed product-specific test methods to replicate the unique in-service conditions which the panels will have to withstand, resulting in a ballistic protection panel which is ideally suited to the challenges of the project.”

Stringent testing, carried out at Morgan’s ISO 17025-accredited laboratory, has included the use of high-speed video analysis to optimise the panels for minimum weight, essential in a speed record attempt.

Conor La Grue of the Bloodhound SSC team added: “Our key technology supply chain partners such as Morgan were carefully selected based on their expertise and capacity to create innovative solutions for a truly unique challenge. We are now well into the primary structure build of Bloodhound SCC, which includes key deliverables from Morgan.

“We are confident that we will be in the desert next year for high speed testing and that we will achieve a new 1,000 mph land speed record the summer after – and in the process of doing so, will be sharing this high innovation, broad technology, open source project with the world to inspire a generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technologists.”