If you get vertigo riding in the glass elevators at your local fancy hotel, you might want to stop reading now. Hotels and skyscrapers in general are about to get a lot taller. A new type of elevator cable means that a elevators can safely and easily travel one kilometer (3281 feet) high with a central elevator shaft.
KONE a company in The Netherlands, has developed a new type of elevator cable that significantly reduces the weight and energy use of elevators above 500 meters, the top limit for current elevator cable. KONE cable is flat, more like tape then what we are used to seeing. The company calls it Ultrarope.
Ultrarope has a carbon fiber core covered in high friction plastic. It has been through rigorous testing and has received third party approval. The new material will last twice as long as ordinary steel cable. It is less sensitive to building sway. The difference in elevator moving masses is stark. The taller the building the more advantageous it is to use Ultrarope. Steel cables use 15 percent more energy at 500 meters than Ultrarope. At 800 meters steel cables use 45 percent more.
|Height||Steel Cable weight||Ultrarope weight|
|100 meters||13,000 kgs||11,800 kgs|
|200 meters||15,100 kgs||12,000 kgs|
|300 meters||17,900 kgs||12,200 kgs|
|400 meters||22,400 kgs||12,400 kgs|
|500 meters||29,000 kgs||12,800 kgs|
|600 meters||39,500 kgs||13,200 kgs|
|700 meters||60,700 kgs||13,600 kgs|
|800 meters||108,600 kgs||13,900 kgs|
For architects, Ultrarope is a blessing. Taller buildings that are currently on drafting tables won’t have to plan for awkward transfers to a second set of elevators like they did with Dubai’s 828-meter-high Burj Khalifa tower. That streamlines building plans and leaves more space for apartments, offices or conference rooms.
Why does it matter that we can build taller buildings creating denser cities than ever before? According to The Atlantic Cities, the denser the city the greater the productivity and innovation of its citizens. Jobs are more plentiful in big cities and the need for transportation in well designed cities is reduced. Having more opportunities within walking distance reduces the need to own your own car or even hop a bus.
While some may decry the ever taller skyline of metropolitan areas, taller buildings do serve a purpose both in providing more living space for an increasing populace and more jobs for that same burgeoning mass. Greenery and green spaces can be factored in as they have been in such future developments as Tainfu, China, Babcock Ranch in Florida, and futuristic cities like Mega City.
With the advent of Ultrarope, it will be interesting to see just how tall buildings can be designed. We may indeed be entering a time when a flying car is more practical to get to your apartment than the subway.