There certainly is a lot that can be done with a “vacuum”. From running a train to communicating and now even operating lifts. TechInsight this week went a bit technical to bring you a piece on elevators, something we often find ourselves using.

Elevators are mechanical ‘vehicles’ created to ‘drive’ persons in buildings. In authentic description however, “an elevator is a type of vertical transport equipment that efficiently moves people or goods between floors in a building or structure”. It may also be referred to as a lift.

In Kenya’s building laws, it is a requirement that if a building erects above five floors, an elevator should to be installed.

Most of the elevators we have around are powered by electric motors that either drive traction cables or counterweight systems like a hoist, or a pump with a hydraulic fluid to raise a cylindrical piston like a jack. Elevators can be cable-borne, hydraulic or mine-shaft driven. Of the three, cable elevators are considered the safes.


Vacuum elevator
This elevator is a new innovation that seeks to bring a revolution in the elevators industry. It is self-supporting and is made from polycarbonate and aluminium. It takes only a few hours to install in buildings taking up just one square meter of space and doesn’t need a pit excavating. Scary but this elevator is without any cabling to support the cab of the elevator.

The vacuum elevator applies simple physics laws where the difference in the air pressure above and below the vacuum cab of the elevator will raise and lower the cab on an air cushion.

The vacuum elevator consists of three essential parts;
-The hoist way cylinder-It is transparent and the tube wall has been constructed with polycarbonate curved sheets. Made by modular lengths, the tube is easy to fit together. It is airtight and comes with safety magnetic locks. The steel roof provides an air tight core and this comes with air inlets and suction valves.

-The vacuum elevator car which consists of transparent polycarbonate which has been mounted to a steel frame. An air tight joint on the roof of the cab makes sure that there are normal pressure and air conditions. The anchoring system comes into play on reaching the correct floor; the cab is locked mechanically at precisely the right level.

-The suction assembly is flexible so that it may be placed or built in different ways. It can be on the same tube holding the cab or as far as 30ft from the cylinder. The motor is mono-phase.

There is a braking system on the cabs roof, which activates in the event of the cab having a sudden return to atmospheric pressure, and this system is made of either a piston or a diaphragm.

Clever locking mechanisms have been installed into the lift to ensure that the lift always stops right at floor level. In the event of a power failure the cab will stop automatically and lock itself on the next floor.

Like the Techie always says, innovations aim to make better our today. The vacuum elevators turn out to be way cheaper than the other elevators. This here, is the future!




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