No.12 A self-powered faucet? The incredible evolution  of the Aqua Auto Faucet series. demonstrates  continual improvements in water and power savings.

Today, automatic faucets can be found in public facilities all over the globe. Toto developed the first such faucet in Japan in 1984, and nearly 30 years later, continued enhancements have lead to drastic improvements. The latest model efficiently and effectively conserves both water and energy, as well as boosting usability and comfort. In this Green Story, we introduce the development of the Aqua Auto Faucet (Self-Powered Type) series.

Hitoshi Nakao

Faucets & Appliances Development Department, Faucets & Appliances Division

Nakao joined Toto in 1995, and since 2001 has been involved in the product planning of the Aqua Auto faucet, except for several years during which he was stationed in Indonesia.

Chapter 1

For 30 years, we have tackled the challenge of making faucets  more ecological and comfortable.

Did you know that Toto's Aqua Auto Faucet is self-powered? When you turn on the faucet, the water flow rotates a dynamo installed inside it, which generates power. It is a surprisingly ecological and innovative product, as the power necessary to operate the sensor as well as to open/close the magnet valve is entirely self-supplied. No power source is necessary. Not only does this save energy, it also makes it amazingly easy to install, since the faucet doesn't need to be connected to a power source - it can be used even in the event of a power outage.

But the self-powering system is not the only amazing thing about the Aqua Auto Faucet. It also features improved water savings. The more accurately the sensor detects the movements of the user's hands, the more efficiently the water can be conserved. The best way to do this was to install the sensor at the spout of the faucet. However, such a tiny sensor was not available at first, so we developed a compact sensor on our own. This has now eliminated the lag time that used to exist, thus eliminating users' irritation over the slight wait for it to turn on/off, and their stress over wasting water.

Usability has also been drastically improved. Although the faucet can save more water, it is meaningless if the user finds it less comfortable than before to wash their hands. With this in mind, we devised a new system that could supply foamy water that contains a lot of air. This aerated water can radically cut the amount of water used, while greatly improving usability. With the "hyper-foamy" spout launched in 2006, users could feel like they were washing their hands in abundant water, even though the water supply had been cut by more than half that of the first-generation Aqua Auto Faucet series. How could we include more air in less water, but still make it come out at an even flow? We took enormous pains to design a faucet to meet this end. The history of the Aqua Auto Faucet has been a never-ending quest for increased water efficiency and comfort.

The latest model, called the Aqua Auto Faucet (All-in-One Type), is self-powered by the impeller installed inside the faucet. The process to develop it was a lengthy one. Although we managed to reduce the volume of the power-generator unit by two-thirds in order to install it under the sink, there were other challenges, since a variety of functions had to be included within the faucet. We went through many hoops to remodel nearly 150 parts that comprise the system, refining designs and reducing their sizes as much as possible. As you see in the cross-section image, the faucet is actually like a robot.

We had a hard time to design it, but I am very happy that the results have received global accolades and that it is considered the best product in Toto's automatic faucet series.

In fact, our automatic faucet has been marketed overseas for over a decade, and sales have been steadily growing, even in droughty areas. If people around the world can feel how comfortable and hygienic as well as easy-to-use and ecological our faucets are, then all our hard work has paid off.

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