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Preliminary Research and Documentation

 The following research and documentation is meant to get this project started. Please consider this a work in progress. Significant work is needed to move this project forward.


How Pneumatic Elevators Work

Pneumatic elevators function on the principle of air pressure and gravity. Conventional pneumatic elevators that are in use today consist of an air-tight, hollow tubular shaft and a piston that is installed on the roof of an elevator car. A set of turbines installed at the top of the shaft increases the internal air pressure and causes the elevator car to move upwards along the axis of the piston. Brakes are installed at each level.

The turbines and brakes are controlled by a switch panel inside the elevator car and at the door of each level. The switch panel is similar to panels found in regular elevators, allowing passengers to move from one level to another.


Moving Up and Down

When the turbines are turned on, the air from the elevator shaft is pumped out and the elevator car ascends or moves up along the axis of the shaft. When the turbines are turned off the elevator car moves down automatically because of earth's gravity. An electronic valve controls the flow of air and the speed of the elevator car when it is descending.

Brakes installed at strategic points determine the level at which the elevator car stops.


SeaPod Spar

A SeaPod is built on a spar that forms the main support structure for the SeaPod. The upper part of the spar is made of transparent fiber glass and is inside the seapod. The lower part of the spar is made of steel and supports the SeaPod. 


Figure 1 - Steel and fiber glass spar

Spars currently have stairs that from the main entrance (level 0) the to the living room and kitchen on level 1. A stair case from the kitchen rises to the master bedroom (level 2). 


Pneumatic Elevator for SeaPods

The objective of this project is to design and build a pneumatic elevator that can replace the staircase to enable users to get to both the levels from the main entrance.


Figure 2 - Illustration of a pneumatic elevator that can be installed inside the SeaPod spar.



The diameter of the SeaPod spar is 1.6 meters. The pneumatic elevator must be installed inside the spar and must move up and down from the main entrance (level 0) to the kitchen (level 1) and master bedroom (level2).

  • Carrying capacity - The elevator has a carrying capacity of 250 kilograms and must accommodate at least 2 adults at a time.
  • Elevator Control - Brakes and switch panels are installed inside the elevator car and at the door of each level.
  • Air Ventilation and Lighting - An automated fan or AC and lighting system is installed. This system turns on only when the elevator car is in use. This is controlled from the elevator control switches.
  • Intercoms - A speaker and mike is installed in all the switch panels to communicate in case emergencies in the the elevator car. 
  • Hinged roof - The roof of the elevator car is built to open outward in case of a power failure.
  • Emergency Ladder - A retractable ladder is installed at  the top of the elevator shaft for exit in case of a power failure.


Back Up Ladder

In case of an elevator malfunction, the elevator car is designed to stop at the nearest lower level. In addition, the roof of the elevator car is hinged and can open outward as shown in Figure 3. A retractable ladder installed at the top descends into the elevator car to enable passengers to climb out of the elevator car.


Figure 3 - Illustration of the hinged roof and emergency ladder.



This project is being developed as an open-source project with the following licensing: