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[Image above] Credit: Credit: Flock and Siemens; Bloodhound SSC

Remember that supersonic car (SSC) that I reported on earlier this year?

It turns out that Bloodhound SSC has more than just Morgan Advanced Materials’ glass fibers protecting its attempt at the world’s fastest record.

For a car that is hoping to speed upwards of 1,000 mph with the help of a rocket engine, heat management is a big concern.

That’s why the Bloodhound SSC team is turning to ceramics to help the car keep its cool long enough to break the world land speed record.

Bloodhound SSC’s engine, like the rest of the vehicle, is an engineering feat—the SSC engine combines a Eurojet EJ200 jet engine, rocket engine, and an auxiliary power unit to supply its record-breaking power. Get a glimpse of the engine in action in this short video below.

Credit: BLOODHOUND SSC – 1,000 mph car; Youtube

The auxiliary power unit, a Jaguar Supercharged V8 engine, drives a rocket oxidizer pump that pushes high-test peroxide (HTP) propellant into the rocket. To rocket to 1,000 mph, Bloodhound SSC needs a massive supply of one tonne of HTP, which is stored in a giant egg-shaped stainless steel tank.

But HTP is just a teeny bit dangerous, so U.K.-based heat management specialist Zircotec (Oxfordshire, U.K.) is helping out the Bloodhound SSC team with some special ceramic solutions that will protect the car’s HTP supply and other components from extreme heat that will be generated during the car’s rocket-powered run.

According to a recent Zircotec press release, “We’ve got approximately 1,000 liters of HTP that has the equivalent explosive force of 1 stick of dynamite per liter if it reaches 40°C, and starts to decompose” says Tony Parraman, of the sponsorship liaison team. “Packaging dictates that our supercharged Jaguar engine, that we use to pump 900 liters in just 20 seconds, is sat next to the tank so preventing heat transfer is on our essential list.”

The Jaguar engine’s exhaust, since it’s uncomfortably close to the HTP tank, is getting a ceramic coating from Zircotec’s ThermoHold product to help keep its cool.

“Plasma-sprayed at twice the speed of sound itself, the coating can reduce surface temperatures by at least 30 percent, ensuring even as heat builds up during the two runs needed for the record to be validated, the tank remains stable,” the release details.

Some of Zircotec’s other flexible zirconium-based heat-resistant coatings also will be applied to various locations on the car to protect against heat.

Zircotec’s ThermoHold heat-resistant composite coating will help protect Bloodhound SSC’s carbon composite body. There, the team will apply a special version of the coating for composites, which is also used in F1 racing cars to prevent delamination of carbon fiber at high temperatures. The coating is “applied at temperatures exceeding 10,000°C but in such a way that the substrate is unaffected,” according to the release.

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Bloodhound SSC driver Andy Green stands next to a Jaguar FType AWD, with Bloodhound SSC in the background. Credit: Flock and Siemens; Bloodhound SSC

Bloodhound SSC will also incorporate Zircotec’s ZircoFlex, a flexible ceramic heat shield that is sprayed onto a metallic backing foil. The heat shield, just 0.3 mm thick, can reduce heat source temperatures by more than 64%, the company says.

“With ZircoFlex we can bend and mold it to shape, it’s lightweight and with self-adhesive backing, good for up to 500°C, we can use in lots of areas,” Parraman says in the release. “For example after a two minute run, the internal temp of the jet or rocket might be 3000°C, but the externals are 200°C. We can manage that heat with ZircoFlex, protecting wiring looms and composite panels.”

Bloodhound SSC will begin trials in the desert of Hakskeen Pan, South Africa during 2015–2016 to test the effectiveness of the vehicle’s thermal protection systems. Ambient desert temperatures in Hakskeen Pan reach 40°C (>100°F), so cooling is a critical issue.

Bloodhound SSC will eventually rocket for the world record in the same desert location, where it will have to complete two successful runs, separated by just one hour, to secure the world record.

We’ll keep you updated as Bloodhound SSC completes its trials and advances towards the world record. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Bloodhound SSC website—it has tons of interesting science and engineering information about the project, car, and attempt at the world record.