Architects are continuing to design taller buildings, but this poses a certain problem for elevators. Until recently, traditional steel lifting cables limited elevators to only 500 meters of vertical travel. If an elevator tried to travel any higher, the weight of all the cable required would be too much. In the tallest buildings around the world, if you wanted to travel higher than 500 meters you have to transfer from one elevator to another. Thanks to a new lightweight material, elevators will be able to travel up to one kilometer continuously.
The new lightweight material is called UltraRope, and it was created by elevator manufacturer Kone. Instead of the normal cross-sectional shape of cable, UltraRope is more ribbon-like in form. It is composed of a carbon fiber core that is covered in a high friction plastic coating. One elevator car would be lifted and lowered by multiple reels of UltraRope that run into a hosting machine at the top of the shaft.
Kone says that for elevators traveling over to 500 meters, UltraRope would reduce the total moving mass by up to 60 percent when compared to steel cables. As the distance travels increases, so does the reduction of total mass. This also means that when UltraRope is used for elevators traveling under 500 meters, there would be substantial energy savings.
UltraRope is said to be twice as strong as steel, require no lubrication, and less sensitive to building sway – which often causes elevators to shut down. The sky seems to be the limit when it comes to UltraRope. Elevators will be able to climb higher than ever before and energy consumption can be reduced. However, as of right now the cost of UltraRope is unknown.