Curved Escalator Wins For Efficiency

A curved escalator design from a professor at City University London called the Levytator – the world’s first capable of following freeform curves – has been shown to operate more efficiently than traditional escalator designs, according to a research paper presented at the Symposium on Lift and Escalator Technologies in the United Kingdom.

The paper was presented by Jack Levy, an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering, who developed the Levytator concept. “The Levytator was primarily developed to give architects the ability to create escalators in any shape they want,” Levy said in a statement. “But we’ve now shown that the design could significantly cut power consumption too. As utility bills rise and more organizations strive for green accreditation for their premises, we hope the Levytator can play an important role in cutting both energy use and the associated costs.”

curved escalator, Levytator

image via City University London

The paper outlines the results of the mathematical modeling on the design Levy conducted in conjunction with his colleague Elena Shcherbakova.  They found that a single Levytator with one power source can be used in place of two escalators with separate motors, with the weight of passengers traveling down offsetting the weight of those travelling up, saving energy. According to their paper, a fully loaded Levytator (with the maximum number of passengers traveling both up and down) would use around 80 percent of the power of two traditional escalators making the same trips, and a half-loaded Levytator (with the down path full and the up path empty) would use half the energy of the two equivalent escalators.

Unlike traditional escalators, where redundant steps move underneath those in use, the Levytator makes use of a continuous loop of curved modules, which can follow any path upwards, flatten and straighten out, and descend once more, all with passengers on board. The university is currently involved in talks with investors, escalator manufacturers, architects and property developers to build and install the first full-size Levytator.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.