A pneumatic, or vacuum, elevator transports passengers from floor to floor using changes in air pressure. A vacuum elevator can be attached to a balcony or travel through a hole in the floor.
The elevator car is moved by differences between the atmospheric pressure above and below the car ceiling. Turbines on the top of the car create a vacuum that causes the car to rise.
A pneumatic elevator has three main parts: cylinder, head unit, and car. The cylinder is a transparent, self-supporting tube built of an aluminum frame and curved polycarbonate sheets. The head unit contains turbines and the controller. The car travels within the cylinder carrying a passenger.
The elevator car runs along rails or columns that are part of the cylinder’s self-supporting structure. The walls of the car consist of clear polycarbonate panels. An anchoring system activates when the elevator reaches the desired floor, stops the car smoothly and precisely, and locks the car mechanically.
The head unit is located on the top of the cylinder, or remotely up to 30 feet away. The remote unit is used when there is not enough ceiling height above the tube. It is also used to when noise is a concern. Placing the turbines in the attic or a closet reduces the noise level significantly.