Imagine commercial elevators in New Jersey that can lift a ship across the Delaware River. Amazing feat, right? Well, this is a reality in China. The world’s largest elevator is in Sandouping, in the Hubei province of China. It works with the Three Gorges Dam, spanning the Yangtze river. And it can lift ships.

You’d think that this was a great feat of engineering and would require some serious math calculations to get right for each ship that needed lifting. Not the way this elevator is built. This elevator always lifts the same amount of weight. A pound is a pound is a pound, as weight goes — whether it’s water, or ships, or some combination of the two. This elevator can lift 6.7 million pounds, and can hold a ship more than 370 feet long. Can you imagine something like this as a commercial elevator in NJ, crossing the Hudson into New York, or the Delaware into Pennsylvania? The elevator works with gear mechanisms and counterbalances to function. It requires very little energy to run, and it is part of the largest hydroelectric dam in the world.

If sheer size weren’t enough, the challenge this elevator solves is even bigger. You see, the elevator replaces five locks at the dam. Those locks would raise or lower each ship to the next water level along the line for a total of 372 feet, taking three hours to accomplish. The new elevator takes 40 minutes. Most commercial elevators wouldn’t ever take that long, but somehow it doesn’t seem so bad when compared to three hours!

Because the elevator has size limits, larger ships still need to use the locks to navigate the river. But the elevator has been a boon for the local tourism industry. Think of what kind of impact this kind of elevator could have in NJ – like making the Great Falls of the Passaic River passable.

The world’s largest elevator in China is the granddaddy of all elevators to which all commercial elevators, NJ and beyond, can aspire. If you have any questions about elevators, big or small, we’re here to help!