UltraRope Extends the Reach of Architects Beyond a Kilometer

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, stands an impressive 828m (2716ft) tall. While certainly impressive, it’s a bit inconvenient to climb, even if you don’t plan to take the stairs – no elevator cable has the tensile strength to service the building’s entire height, forcing would-be Burj-scalers to make a transfer to a second elevator roughly five hundred meters above the ground.

But all that is about to change. Finnish company KONE has developed a super-strong tape that can extend a single elevator’s reach as far as a kilometer. Key to this new development is a lightweight, super-strong carbon fiber lift-hoisting cable.

In traditional elevators, the cable is made of woven steel hawsers, presenting a massive problem – the steel might be strong enough to hold up an elevator, but it also has to hold up the steel. As the cable grows longer, the weight of the cable grows without a corresponding increase in strength. Past approximately five hundred meters, the cable simply isn’t safe.

To help the urban-planners and architects designing the stratosphere-scrapping mega-cities of tomorrow, KONE has developed UltraRope: a 4-milimeter thick, 4 centimeter-wide tape that can hoist a an elevator over a kilometer high.

To test their design, KONE’s engineers used UltraRope in the 333m deep mineshaft at Lohja, Finland. Since 2004, miners have been making the descent into mine via an UltraRope tape, and everything has gone off swimmingly.

According to Antony Wood, Executive Director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in Chicago, “”UltraRope is one of the biggest breakthroughs since the advent of the [Otis] safety elevator 150 years ago”.

UltraRope comes not a moment too soon, either, with the kilometer-tall Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, being set for completion in 2019. As buildings continue to get taller and taller, just remember, a 4-millimeter tape is ferrying you to the clouds.


Watch a Video of the UltraRope in Action:

Images and Video Courtesy of Kone