In most skyscrapers, ultra-high-speed elevators are installed to maintain traffic. However, ride comfort and safety are difficult to achieve when an elevator car is moving at high speeds in a narrow hoistway. Pressure differences can subject the car to a high aerodynamic load, triggering tinnitus and earache. Vibrations and wind sounds may also become unbearably prominent.

Using large-eddy simulations (LES) and the Curle acoustic theory, He et al. established a numerical model of the elevator wellbore flow field and investigated the sound characteristics of its annular space under different flow guide shapes.

“We have linked the flow field and sound field in the annular space, revealing the mechanism and distribution of the flow guiding shape, eddy currents, and aerodynamic loads in this special area,” said author Qin He. “We have also explored the noise characteristics based on the relationship between eddy currents and sound source intensity, which has never been demonstrated before.”

The authors linked structural changes of the elevator car to vortex shedding in the annular space, related sound characteristics to the intensity of vortex shedding, and determined the impact of guide surface installations on airflow energy and noise — all of which lacked exploration by previous studies.

In the future, the authors plan to continue improving the design of ultra-high-speed elevators.

“Next, we will investigate the coupled vibration response of the elevator car under aerodynamic excitation and conduct multi-objective optimization of the aerodynamic shape based on genetic algorithms and neural networks,” said He.

Source: “Research on the unsteady flow field and aerodynamic noise characteristics in the circular space of ultra-high-speed elevators,” by Qin He, Guifa Yang, Ruijun Zhang, Chenglong Zhang, and Kai Ma, Physics of Fluids (2024). The article can be accessed at

This paper is part of the Flow and Civil Structures Collection, learn more here.