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Curtin tests supersonic Aussie Invader

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Curtin University is helping the Australian land speed record holder build a supersonic car he hopes will beat the Brits to the 1000 mile-per-hour land speed world record.

Perth-based race driver Rosco McGlashan has enlisted Curtin’s Fluid Dynamics Research Group to test the aerodynamics of the Aussie Invader rocket car he is building.

Artist's impression of Aussie Invader firing up.

“Computational Fluid Dynamics is one of the main components of the car and we have to get it right,” McGlashan told Curtin News.

“The nose and skirt around the front wheels are the (aerodynamically) dirtiest parts of the car and the Curtin team is proving really helpful with that.”

McGlashan wants to beat former RAF wing commander and current 1228 km/h world record holder Andy Green to the magical 1000 mile per hour mark.

That’s 1609 km/h in metric, or Mach 1.4 in supersonic, speak.

Green was the first man to create a sonic boom in a car – at Mach 1.02 in 1997, a feat McGlashan has not yet achieved.

“There’s no point being second (to the 1000 mph mark),” 802.6 km/h Australian record holder McGlashan said.

“It’s like Chuck Yeager when he went through the sound barrier, Mach 1 (in a fighter jet).

“The next guy went Mach 4 but not too many people have ever heard of him.”

James Jewkes, Dr Andrew King, Dr Ben Mullins and two fourth-year engineering students from Curtin are providing their engineering services free of charge.

“It’s absolutely incredible what he’s doing,” Dr Jewkes said.

“We’re building a three dimensional model of his land speed record car and modeling the supersonic flow around it.

“We’re looking at the forces and modifying the design to limit the drag.”

Dr Jewkes said one of the students was focusing on the design of the front wheel, while the other was concentrating on the rear axle and wing.

“(McGlashan) has got this rocket engine he’s managed to import from the US,” Dr Jewkes said.

“You talk to the guy and it’s fascinating.

“He’s got this real can-do approach.”

Dr Jewkes said a baseline model had already been completed for the current design of Aussie Invader.

“It’s a real nice project for the students,” he said.

“It’s an emotive topic and they have some fun doing it and learning about Computational Fluid Dynamics and supersonic flow in the process.”

McGlashan speculated the work could be the tip of a career iceberg for the Curtin students.

“The big thing I’ve said to the (Curtin) team is that the US car Blue Flame (which held the land speed record for 27 years from 1970) was built with the help of Chicago Institute of Technology,” he said.

“And all of the guys who worked on that went onto top engineering positions.”

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