The Bloodhound SSC team has successfully tested one of the wheels that will help the jet and rocket propelled car achieve 1609km/h (1000mph) on a salt flat in South Africa.
At that speed the wheel will not only heat up, but grow in size and vibrate. To check if the team’s computer simulations were on the money and that the wheel doesn’t come apart when rotating quickly, the Bloodhound SSC team enlisted the help of the Rolls-Royce — that’s Rolls-Royce, the aircraft engine manufacturer, not the BMW-owned luxury marque.
At the Rolls-Royce test facility, one of the wheels to be used on the Bloodhound SSC was placed into a machine that usually tests experimental fan blades. Inside, the wheel was spun up to 10,429rpm or 174 revolutions per second, which is the fastest speed ever achieved at the test centre and mimics conditions at 1770km/h (1100mph).
Thankfully the wheel passed its test. At its fastest, the solid wheel, constructed from aerospace-grade aluminium, expanded by 1.6mm from its resting diameter of 902.6mm (35.7 inches).
The only slight concern was about the wheel’s temperature, which at one point rose one degree per second and hit a maximum of 96 degrees Celsius; at 150 degrees Celsius aluminium loses its structural rigidity. Once the experiment was adjusted to more accurately simulate the Bloodhound SSC’s acceleration and deceleration rates, real world results fell back into line with the team’s computer simulations.
With the wheel certified as meeting expectations, the Bloodhound SSC team can now have the other wheels built. By next year the car should be ready for real-world tests at the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa.