The Bloodhound Project Lockheed Martin UK to help re-invent the wheel for world’s fastest car

Lockheed Martin UK to help re-invent the wheel for world’s fastest car

Press Release
Monday, 27 July, 2009

Lockheed Martin UK is providing Research & Development in the first step towards designing the wheels on the world’s fastest car, BLOODHOUND SSC.

Lockheed Martin is leading a 700 hour ’wheel concept study’, to identify and explore initial ideas for the wheel design, which, made from premium grade solid titanium, will experience the most extreme driving conditions ever known:

  • The 900mm-diameter wheels will spin at 10,500 RPM, with a force of 50,000 radial G at the wheel rim; so fast they will have to be made from solid premium-grade titanium to prevent them from flying apart.
  • Fully fuelled, the car will weigh 6.5 tonnes and the air pressure bearing down on the car’s carbon fibre and titanium bodywork will exceed twelve tonnes per square metre

The project marks the first step in the wheel design process, aiming to discover if it is even possible to produce such a wheel.

The next step will be to form a syndicate of specialist suppliers: forging and materials specialists, a design base, machiner and heat treater, for example.

The Project has an aggressive time-frame with the first overseas record attempt set to take place in 2011. The exact run location will also not yet be confirmed until the end of 2009 – which could introduce new variables to overcome.
BLOODHOUND SSC’s Engineering Director John Piper said: "The single requirement for a land speed record car is that it has four wheels: everything else is optional.

"Without the wheels we have no car. Yet, the wheel development programme is one of the most challenging aspects of the vehicle’s design so we welcome Lockheed Martin’s support, with their expertise in overcoming complex engineering challenges."

Steve Burnage, Research Engineering Manager at Lockheed Martin UK said: "We are proud to be involved in the design of such a vital element of the car, and will utilise our experience to find the optimum solution for this exciting challenge."

Richard Noble, BLOODHOUND Project Director said: "The pioneering research in aerodynamics, materials technology and manufacturing - now underway – will, without doubt, continue to benefit industry for years to come."

"But the BLOODHOUND Project is not just about the pursuit of speed. It presents the perfect opportunity to spotlight maths, science and engineering careers in the most exciting way possible – by pushing technology to its limit."