New Technology May Double the Height of Skyscrapers

Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE has unveiled a new hoisting technology that will enable elevators to travel twice the distance currently in use. The new development implies that the Burj Khalifa will not remain the tallest building for very long. The Burj, towering at 828 meters, has the longest elevator travel distance at 504 meters. KONE promises to double that.

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The fastest elevator in the world, supplied by Toshiba, is installed in Taipei 101, rising at 33.7 mph, it takes the passenger from ground to roof in half a minute. Even that surpasses the speed of the Burj Khalifa's Otis Elevator travels at a mere 22 mph, still third on the list. At 828 meters tall, the Burj Khalifa would still be about 300 meters shy (about the height of The Shard) of the elevator journey and building that this new technology proposes. In making vertical transportation more accessible, building ever-taller skyscrapers becomes more feasible.

KONE UltraRope Elevator Shaft

The new hoisting technology developed by KONE called UltraRope replaces the conventional steel rope used for lifting with one that is developed with a carbon fiber core and a high-friction coating. The rope is extremely light, reducing energy consumption in high-rise buidlings, as it also reduces the weight of the moving components including the hoisting ropes, compensating ropes, counterweight, elevator car, and passenger load. At 800 meters, the weight of the moving masses using KONE UltraRope is a fraction of the weight accumulate with the conventional steel rope.

KONE UltraRope Hoisting Machine

The carbon fiber rope has a number of other advantages.  KONE says that since "carbon fiber resonates at a completely different frequency to steel and most other building materials" elevator downtime caused by building sway will be reduced.  In addition, the rope has twice the lifetime as steel rope, requires less maintainence and thereby reduces its material waste and environmental impact.

This comes as a breakthrough in elevator technology, as Antony Wood, Architect and Executive Director, Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) states, one of the major limits of single elevator travel distance was that at a height of approximately 500 meters the weight of the rope became unsupportable. Check out this website for a more in-depth look at this technology.

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Cite: Irina Vinnitskaya. "New Technology May Double the Height of Skyscrapers" 11 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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