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A Bend in the River

You may remember the term “oxbow” from geography class, or the “oxbow effect.” It’s the way a river flows over a flat plain: slowly, the hydrodynamic flow of that straight river begins to carve out a series of bends to the left and right. From above, a single one of these curves looks look very much like the U-shaped collar of an ox yoke; together, they create a long, squiggly line.

Scientists will tell you that water moves faster around the outside of these curves than the inside. At TOTO, that’s where our interest in biomimicry comes in. We pay great attention to water flow and to the workings of nature, so we got to thinking as we were designing a new urinal. With 3D modeling, we were able to create a trap-way – the channel in a toilet that connects the bowl to the waste outlet – that imitated the oxbow’s efficient flow. With just one pint of water, we could create the turbulence needed to rinse the bowl completely, eliminate backflow, and prevent odors.

Our Oxbow trap-way, which harnesses the hydrodynamic flow in a urinal in an exceptionally efficient way, is revolutionary. But it’s also rather obvious if, like TOTO, you’re looking for nature-derived, sustainable ideas to save water and energy. As Bill Strang, our president of Operations in the US, says, “These kinds of sustainable practices, that can be used in some of the more mundane products that we seem to forget about, can have a huge impact in the effectiveness and the quality of that product in its environment.”

Stay tuned. With TOTO, there are always more PeoplePlanetWater innovations to come.