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We’re used to seeing elevators transport people or smaller cargo items from one level to another — but a mid-dam elevator for cargo ships is a first. On China’s Yangtze River, the controversial Three Gorges Dam is home to the latest engineering marvel, which cuts the time for cargo ships to get past the dam from three hours to 40 minutes. As you can see below, cargo ships can now seamlessly travel from one stage to the next — a revolutionary concept.

The new elevator transports each ship and its water from one level to the next, bypassing the five stages of locks they used to have to go through — it’s designed to accommodate cargo ships, but, as you can see in the clip above, it appears that ferries (filled with passengers) can use it, too. It’s about 370 feet in height, takes about 40 minutes to go up or down and can carry nearly seven million pounds. The new technology will allow six million more tons of cargo to cross the dam every year. Some of the larger ships, however, will still have to use the locks.

H/T: Quartz

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