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Carbon fibre rope heralds the 1km elevator ride

25 June, 2013

The Finnish elevator manufacturer Kone has developed a lightweight carbon-fibre-based lifting rope that will allow elevators to travel through heights of up to 1km – twice as far as is possible at present. The UltraRope hoisting technology will also result in energy savings of up to 45%.

The new rope, consisting of a carbon fibre core with a high-friction coating, is much lighter than conventional steel ropes. For a 500m travel height, the new system reduces the moving mass by 60% and the energy consumption by 15%.

For example, the steel rope and other moving parts for a traditional elevator designed to transport 24 passengers through a height of 500m, weigh around 27,000kg and consume 130,000kWh of electricity per year. An equivalent system based on the new rope would have a moving mass of around 12,800kg. The benefits of the carbon-fibre rope are said to increase exponentially as the travel height grows.

The reduced moving masses mean that the elevator motor currents are lower and there is a reduced need for machine-room cooling.

The wear-resistant UltraRope is said to have other advantages, including a lifetime twice as long as conventional steel rope. It does not need to be lubricated and, because carbon fibre resonates at a different frequency to steel, the elevators will not need to be taken out of service when a tall building is swaying in high winds.

Kone's carbon-fibre-based UltraRope will allow elevators to travel through heights of up to 1km as well as saving energy.

Kone president and CEO Matti Alahuhta predicts that the new rope “will revolutionise the elevator industry for the tallest segment of buildings across the globe”.

Almost 600 buildings of 200m or higher are currently being built or are planned for the next few years. Three of them are taller than 500m and there are proposals for 20 more buildings of this size. Kone also estimates that there are also around 3,000 existing buildings that could benefit from being modernised using the carbon-fibre rope.

Kone has been testing the new rope since 2010 at the world’s tallest elevator testing laboratory in a 300m shaft alongside a limestone mine in Finland.

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