Hitchin's FFE helps fire Bloodhound team towards world land speed record

PUBLISHED: 13:24 02 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:31 02 November 2017

A depoiction of how the Bloodhound rocket car will look during its 1,000mph land speed record attempt. Picture: Emma Knowles/FFE

A depoiction of how the Bloodhound rocket car will look during its 1,000mph land speed record attempt. Picture: Emma Knowles/FFE


You may have heard about the Bloodhound rocket car project aiming to set a land speed record of 1,000mph - but you probably don't know parts of it are made by a Hitchin firm.

The Bloodhound rocket car. Picture: Emma Knowles/FFEThe Bloodhound rocket car. Picture: Emma Knowles/FFE

FFE Ltd, based in Hunting Gate off Wilbury Way, supply the fire detection gear inside the British-made 135,000-horsepower beast – which ran at 200mph during tests in Cornwall late last month.

The Bloodhound SSC team hope the car, powered by a Rolls-Royce jet engine used on RAF fighters, will reach 1,000mph on a South African dry lake bed in 2019.

FFE technical director Jacob Andelin said: “We are excited and proud to be involved in such an amazing engineering project – not only because it showcases our products but also because it showcases engineering to the wider world.

FFE technical director Jacob Andelin. Picture: Emma Knowles/FFEFFE technical director Jacob Andelin. Picture: Emma Knowles/FFE

“It is my hope that the Bloodhound project will inspire the next generation of engineers, which is of crucial importance if the UK is to maintain its position at the forefront of design and technology.”

The temperature inside the rocket can reach 3,000°C – about twice the heat inside a volcano.

FFE’s Talentum flame detection system, usually used in military and industrial settings, has been adapted specifically for the harsh requirements of Bloodhound.

The FFE team boast that it can detect a flame source within 27 milliseconds – less than three per cent of a second.

The company has so far supplied three custom flame detectors to be installed in the car, and another 13 will be added before the record-breaking attempts in South Africa.

The detectors have ultra-violet and infrared sensors that respond to different wavelengths, with the simultaneous detection of both UV and IR light triggering an alarm that is relayed to Bloodhound’s driver Andy Green.

FFE – which lists the White House, Dubai Airport and Pinewood Studios among its clients – worked closely with Bloodhound to develop the units, which were extensively redesigned to be smaller and lighter to fit inside the car.

The land speed record has been held by British engineers since 1983, when Bloodhound project director Richard Noble drove Thrust2 at 634mph in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA.

RAF fighter pilot Andy Green set the current record of 760mph at the same location in 1997, driving ThrustSSC.

For more information about fire detection specialists FFE, see ffeuk.com.

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