One of the major obstacles to developing ever taller skyscrapers was the absence of a solid and reliable system to support elevators able to go that high up. Traditional steel cables cannot go higher than 500 meters (1,640 feet) in a single run.

But thanks to the Kone UltraRope, from Finland’s Kone Corporation, this situation is very likely to change. Deemed a revolutionary innovation, the UltraRope is a superstrong carbon fiber rope that will allow elevators to travel up to one kilometer (3,281 feet) in a single vertical run.

Kone UltraRope Makes Taller Skyscrapers Possible

Kone Corporation, which manufactures elevators, unveiled the new rope last week. The UltraRope is made of carbon fiber core which is covered by a high-friction plastic coating. It is also very light, which means that the energy consumption of elevators in high buildings can be significantly reduced.

Its light weight allows for a considerable reduction in an elevator’s moving mass, which makes it possible for the UltraRope to go higher than the traditional cables. In the case of an elevator that travels 500 meters, UltraRope would be able to cut the moving mass by 60 percent, Kone said. And the figure would increase as the traveled distance grows.

More specifically, for a 500-meter building, the moving mass with a traditional steel cable would be 29,000 kilos, while with the UltraRope, it would be only 12,800 kilos. And for a theoretical 800-meter elevator, the steel rope system’s weight would reach 108,600 kilos and UltraRope would help keep the elevator system at only 13,900 kilos.

The same applies for energy savings: the UltraRope would help reduce energy consumption by 15 percent for a 500-meter elevator and by 45 percent for an 800-meter (2,625 feet) one.

Manufacturers say the rope is also very resistant to abrasion and wear and twice as strong as current steel cables. Due to the fact that it’s made of carbon fiber, which resonates at different frequencies than steel and other materials, the UltraRope is also less sensitive to building sway.

What do you think of the Kone UltraRope? Are you looking forward to an elevator ride of 3,000 feet?

[Image via Business Week]