Good Thinking

Mitsubishi develops ultra-high-speed elevator technology

The Shanghai Tower (the tall one) will be one of the first buildings to have ultra-high-speed elevators developed by Mitsubishi (Image: Gensler Architects)
The Shanghai Tower (the tall one) will be one of the first buildings to have ultra-high-speed elevators developed by Mitsubishi (Image: Gensler Architects)
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The Shanghai Tower (the tall one) will be one of the first buildings to have ultra-high-speed elevators developed by Mitsubishi (Image: Gensler Architects)
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The Shanghai Tower (the tall one) will be one of the first buildings to have ultra-high-speed elevators developed by Mitsubishi (Image: Gensler Architects)

Due to the number of stairs that needed to be climbed to reach the top, buildings of over six storys were a rarity until the 19th century when the development of passenger elevators - along with advances in building materials and techniques - enabled the construction of taller and taller buildings. As skyscrapers continue to reach ever higher, elevators are required to carry more people further, faster. Mitsubishi already has the first problem licked with the development of elevators able to carry 80 people at once. Now it has tackled speed with technologies that enable ultra-high-speed elevators to travel at more than 60 km/h (37 mph or 1,000 meters a minute).

The various technologies that Mitsubishi has developed to be incorporated into the world's fastest elevators include:

  • a single motor with two grouped three-phase winding coils and parallel drive systems that feature a built-in converter to regenerate electricity and cut power consumption by over 30 percent
  • hydraulic driven clamp-type disk brakes
  • lighter traveling cables enabled by encasing a wider diameter steel core in a lightweight sheath material
  • a new active roller guide to reduce vibration from the guide rails and wind at ultra-high speeds
  • streamlined aerodynamic car cover with a sound insulating cage.
  • safety gear shoes constructed from fine ceramic to provide high resistance to heat, abrasion and shock and provide stability even if high frictional heat when the safety gear is activated
  • air pressure control to minimize rapid changes in atmospheric pressure

Mitsubishi says these technologies are being incorporated into elevators for the 632-meter (2,073 ft) Shanghai Tower currently under construction in China.
Source: Mitsubishi via ubergizmo

8 comments
editor
Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that 1,000 meters a second would obviously be quite a feat for an elevator. The article has been corrected to read a slightly more realistic 1,000 meters a minute.
Island Architect
Another case where Invented here, fat and sassy executive cadre being out thought by someone else elsewhere. And of course, beat out. The acceleration curves that Mitsubishi has are astounding. You get on the elevator, the doors close and wait a few minutes or seconds and the doors open again and you are in a totally different environment. No sense of movement at all. You really have to admire them for that. No bouncing around, no misalignments, simply perfection. Bravo!
Slowburn
I would get rid of the steel cable altogether and have the motor/generator on the car driving through a rack and pinion gears, with the power delivered through the guide rails not dissimilar to a model railroad. Aside from all the other brakes and safeties I would have the bottom of the elevator shaft shaped to act as a pneumatic cushion/brake.
Gadgeteer
All good and well for going up, but I\'m waiting for someone to take the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) approach to coming down fast. A 2000-foot fire pole would be an absolute blast to slide down. No electricity needed. All you\'d need is some kind of airlock vestibule at each floor\'s platform so there\'s no stack effect up the column. I\'d even pay a few bucks to slide down. It could be vertical transportation and thrill ride all in one.
Paul Snyder
For a taste of what is possible, ride the elevator in Taipei\'s 101 Tower. It is double-decked, has very little sense of acceleration, no left/right rocking, no wind noise. But it gets to the top in something less than a minute. Looking forward to going up in the Shanghai Tower, watching it being built, now!
Sambath Pech
Are there such things as magnetic levitation elevators yet?
Gary Richardson
I\'d bet that magnetic levitation is not practical due to weight issues and will remain so until magnets fall into the correct cost/safety parameters at lower weights.
Thái Mèo
Really??? 60km/h...OMG. it's too fast...
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