With limited available space in the city and increasing land cost, multi-storey and high-rise buildings now dominate most urban areas of the world. The irresistible trend to build taller and taller buildings to leverage increasing land cost turns elevator from a tool of convenience to a necessity of life. This dependence of elevator further requires its continuous function in spite of power failure caused by a variety of reasons. Reliable and effective elevator power backup system becomes an urgent need today. In this work, advanced electric power backup technologies, including battery, ultracapacitor and hydrogen fuel cells, are examined. To design a functional elevator backup power system, and to assess the feasibility of a battery–ultracapacitor–fuel cell hybrid elevator backup power system with superior performance, the modeling and simulation of an elevator and its backup power system are carried out. Based on its resemblance to an electric vehicle traveling vertically, the elevator, its power need and performance are modeled using the MatLab/Simulink based hybrid vehicle design and analysis tool, ADvanced VehIcle SimulatOR (ADVISOR). The modeling and simulation provide guidelines for selecting and sizing energy storage and conversion devices. More importantly, the quantitative analysis allows complex battery–ultracapacitor–fuel cell hybrid backup power system to be optimized to reach the best potential of each components for a given elevator usage cycle. To explore the feasibility of wide commercial applications of this technology, the initial cost, maintain costs and reliability of the battery–ultracapacitor–fuel cell hybrid elevator backup power system are also discussed.

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