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Surfaces, Microstructure and Fracture Group

While the major part of the group's activities involves long projects (be they PhD projects or at a postdoctoral level) scope exists for some smaller scale consultancy type projects to be taken on by group members. These projects would typically last up to a month and have a slightly broader definition of research than is the case for the longer projects. In the long term it is necessary for the research to either lead to a PhD or publishable scientific output, this is not a requirement for short term projects.


Case Study - Reinventing the (1000 mph) Wheel

The Bloodhound SSC projects is the latest in a long line of UK based attempts on the land speed record. Gone are the days when such an attempt simply involved having the guts to strap a larger engine on a lighter car, modern efforts require a substantial investment in cutting edge technology and research to have any chance of succeeding. As the aim of the current attempt is to reach 1000 mph, even aspects which one might consider a solved problem, like wheels, need to be rethought.

Bloodhound SSC


In order to be structurally sound enough at high speed, the wheels of the car will be made from solid metal. However, another aspect has to be considered, and that is the potential for stones or other debris to be thrown up by the front wheel and subsequently impact the rear. How would the chosen alloys react to such an impact?Testing the wheel material for bloodhound SSC

This was where we were asked to help. Using one of our gas guns we were able to accelerate representative stones to the required velocity and study the impact with prospective wheel alloys. Various materials were tested and comparisons were able to be made allowing for an informed decision to be made by the cars design team. An animation of some of the high speed impact footage can be seen to the right: