Pneumatic | PVE Elevators

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Environmentally friendly residential elevators with minimal construction required

Principles of Operation

The Vacuum Elevator combines a smooth, vertical cylinder and an elevator car that moves vertically with air suction. The difference in atmospheric pressure at the top of the car versus under the car is what creates the ascending push needed to move the car to a higher floor. The car will ascend when a pneumatic depression (vacuum) is created by turbines operating as exhaust fans located at the top of the elevator.

  • Steel car, with air tight seal affixed to the top, allows an almost frictionless movement that creates lift due to the difference in air pressure generated above the car
  • A valve at the top of the elevator regulates inflow of air which releases the pneumatic depression, enables descent, and also controls the speed of the car during descent
  • The lowest part of the cylinder is open to allow free air-flow at atmospheric pressure
  • At each floor level, seals along the perimeter of the doors are self-sealing because of the action of the atmospheric pressure
  • Steel, mechanical locks are located at each floor level as a safety precaution to ensure the car is locked in place before an individual exits the elevator
  • Upon a freefall of 2 inches, a mechanical safety braking device will be activated
  • In the case of a power failure, the car will slowly descend to the ground floor where an individual may easily exit


The Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator consists of three main parts:

The self-supporting cylinder consists of tube walls made of curved polycarbonate sheets wrapped around a sturdy aluminum structure. This tube is made of several transparent, modular sections which fit together easily, and its steel roof has suction valves and inlets which ensure air tight closures.

The car, made of steel and transparent, polycarbonate panel walls, travels inside the exterior cylinder. When an indicated floor level is reached, an anchoring system on the car is activated to provide smooth stops and lock the car mechanically.

The suction assembly (or “Head Unit”) is situated at the top of the cylinder, where the valves, turbines, and control panel are found. The control panel is a metal box housing a PVE controller board and other electric devices. The head unit can be positioned at either the top of the cylinder (standard), or separately (split unit) at distances of up to 30 linear feet (10m) from the top of the cylinder. The frame of the suction assembly can be constructed out of either fiber glass or steel depending on the model.