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Philip & Arnold Hennessy

Location: Toronto, ON

Award: Innovation Award

Category: Industry

Year: 2008

Innovation:

Their patented innovation, the Flapperless, Tip-Bucket Toilet is designed to reduce the water wasted in conventional toilets through flapper valve leakage. Read the News Release and Media Backgrounder for additional information

News Release

Creators of Innovative Water-Efficient Toilet Achieve National Recognition

Ontario Family of Inventors Feel the Flush of Success

Calgary, AB (September 12, 2008) - Nephew-and-uncle-team Philip and Arnold Hennessy have been recognized with a $10,000 Manning Innovation Award, sponsored by KatchKan™ Ltd., for inventing and developing the Flapperless, Tip-Bucket Toilet. The low-flow and leak-proof toilet is engineered for ultimate water-efficiency, but does not require any lifestyle changes on the part of the user.

On the outside, a Flapperless looks like any other toilet, but instead of draining the tank through a flappered outlet, a bucket of water inside the tank tips to make the toilet flush. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200,000 litres of water a year, reports Environment Canada. By getting rid of the flapper, says Arnold Hennessy, the flush valve cannot leak.

In 2005, the United Nations Water for Life campaign in Canada recognized the Flapperless toilet as an innovative water-conservation solution. The presentation of this award led to a national public service announcement by Global TV. Intent on improvement, in 2007, Flapperless Inc. put three new toilets on the market that use only 4.8 litres of water per flush. The typical residential low-flow toilet uses 6 litres.

As Canadians are slowly realizing, “our most precious resource is water,” says Philip Hennessy. He and uncle, Arnold Hennessy, who came up with the initial tip-bucket design, are pleased to see their innovation becoming a standard fixture in the growing number of Canadian communities committed to water conservation. The toilets are eligible for low-flow toilet rebate programs from coast to coast, including the City of Calgary and Town of Canmore in Alberta, and several municipalities in Ontario.

Over 1 million Flapperless toilets have been sold in Canada and the United States. The toilets are also marketed in Mexico, the Middle East and China.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year the Foundation will award $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totalling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Canadians chosen at the 2008 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $3.9 million in prize money through its annual awards program. The 2008 awards will be presented at an awards gala on Friday, October 3 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

A Media Backgrounder about the innovators and their work is now available on the Foundation’s website, with video available after October 3, 2008: www.manningawards.ca

For more information on the Foundation, contact Bruce Fenwick, Executive Director: 403-645-8288 or bruce.fenwick@encana.com

For more information about the innovators and their products, visit www.niagaraflapperless.ca/toilets.htm or contact Mr. Philip Hennessy: 613-398-0108 or hennessy@xplornet.com
 

Media Backgrounder

$10,000 Manning Innovation Award

Sponsored by KatchKan™ Ltd.

Philip and Arnold Hennessy

The Flapperless, Tip-Bucket Toilet

Who?

  • Nephew-and-uncle-team Philip and Arnold Hennessy are the inventors and developers of the Flapperless, tip-bucket toilet

What?

  • Engineered for ultimate water-efficiency, the Flapperless, tip-bucket toilet is an innovative, yet simple, low-flow and leak-proof toilet

Where?

  • Marketing company Niagara Flapperless (operated by Flapperless Inc.) is based in Toronto, Ontario; Philip Hennessy, Managing Partner of Flapperless Inc., continues to work on design improvements from a home-workshop in southeastern Ontario
  • Flapperless toilets are sold across North America, in the Middle East and in China, and are eligible for low-flow toilet rebates in municipal programs throughout Canada

When?

  • In 1998, Philip Hennessy and Mark Hinchcliffe founded Flapperless Inc. in order to develop, manufacture and market Arnold Hennessy’s idea for a tip-bucket toilet; the original design was patented in the United States in 1999

Preventing a Precious Resource from Going Down the Toilet

Discrete yet insidious, a leaky toilet can waste as much as 200,000 litres of water a year, reports Environment Canada. Most often, the leak is due to a failing flapper, the plug that is supposed to sit flat at the bottom of the tank until you flush the toilet. With a press of the lever, the flapper opens and up to 20 litres of water rush into the bowl…and down the drain.

As Canadians are starting to recognize, clean water is in limited supply.

“Our most precious resource is water,” says Philip Hennessy, co-designer of the leak-proof and low-flow Flapperless toilet. He and uncle, Arnold Hennessy, who came up with the initial tip-bucket design, are pleased to see their innovation becoming a standard fixture in the growing number of Canadian communities committed to water conservation.

Flapperless models are eligible for low-flow toilet rebate programs from coast to coast, including the City of Calgary, Town of Canmore, and drought-conscious Town of Okotoks in Alberta, and several municipalities in Ontario. It is the “toilet of choice” for the Peel Living Water Efficiency Retrofit Project in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario. Following a successful trial in an assisted housing project, the Region of Peel has installed Flapperless toilets in over 750 apartment suites. Homestead Land Holdings Limited of Kingston Ontario has used the toilets in retrofits of 127 buildings.

Arnold Hennessy says he’s seen a shift in Canadians’ attitudes towards water-use since the ‘60s, when he began working in the construction industry. “At first they didn’t consider it even a problem around the Great Lakes…they didn’t want to think about it,” he says. In contrast, while travelling in the southern United States, he found that “water was absolutely the crisis in lots of places. They just didn’t have any.” Public washrooms were often closed, or users were asked to flush only when necessary.

Today, Canadians are being forced to take a different approach, he says, because “our way of handling things in the past has come back to bite us.” While it was once simple to drill a well and drink the water, he notes that “the cost of taking water today that has so many chemicals in it, and making it fit for human consumption—it’s no longer a small matter.”

In 2005, the United Nations Water for Life campaign in Canada recognized the Flapperless toilet as an innovative water-conservation solution. The presentation of this award led to a national public service announcement by Global TV. The achievement did not stop the Hennessys from making further design improvements, however. In 2007, Flapperless Inc. put three new toilets on the market that use only 4.8 litres of water per flush. The typical residential low-flow toilet uses 6 litres.

Philip Hennessy says his next goal is to market a leading edge three-litre toilet. “I’m getting close on that,” he predicts.

The UN’s “Water for Life: International Decade for Action” is 2005–2015. The UN declared 2008 the “International Year of Sanitation.”

Potty Talk

On the outside, a Flapperless looks like any other toilet. But it’s the inside that counts. Instead of draining the tank through a flappered outlet, with each flush, the tip-bucket toilet up-ends a trough of water inside the tank, and gravity takes over. Deflectors around the outlet to the toilet bowl and the shape of the bowl itself channel the falling water for an effective flush.

By getting rid of the flapper, says Arnold Hennessy, the flush valve cannot leak. Sooner or later all toilet flapper valves fail, he explains, citing cases in which 40 percent of a household’s water-use was draining out of a leaky toilet.

In addition, in a Flapperless, because the inner bucket stores cold water away from the ceramic walls of the tank, the outside of the tank does not “sweat” with condensation.

Another advantage of a flapperless system is that it cannot be altered to use more water. Philip Hennessy says that this was a big problem with low-flow toilets when he and his uncle first went into business together in 1998. If, during repairs, a standard flapper was used to replace one unique to a particular type of toilet, or if the float (i.e. water level) were set too high, the toilet would flush a much larger quantity of water than it was supposed to. Often, the customer would be happy with the now forceful flush, not realizing that the toilet was gulping more water than ever.

Maximum Performance (MaP) testing demonstrates that Flapperless models do the job they were designed for, unlike some “low-flow” toilets, which require multiple flushes. In a 2002 study by the American National Homebuilders Association, the Flapperless out-performed 41 other low-flow two-piece toilets on the US market.

Philip Hennessy says that thousands of hours of work have gone into the toilet bowl hydraulics. The trap-way and tank-to-bowl passage, the way that water enters the rim, the jet channels, and even the size and shape of the bowl, work in unison to dramatically impact the toilet’s performance. Design improvements, he says, are “something that never stops.”

Apartment complex owners favour Flapperless toilets because they are easy to install in place of old fixtures and need minimal maintenance. Furthermore, the water-efficient toilets do not create any lifestyle changes for residents.

Over 1 million Flapperless toilets have been sold in Canada and the United States, bringing in annual revenues of over $2 million from toilet sales and international licenses. The toilets are also marketed in Mexico, the Middle East and China.

A Toilet Ahead of Its Time

“Everyone in the world needs a toilet,” notes Philip Hennessy. When his uncle, Arnold Hennessy, approached him with a unique idea for a water-efficient toilet, Philip was quick to “jump in.” “It’s not a novelty item that he was trying to market,” he says. And like his uncle, Philip saw that North America had a problem with water-conservation.

Arnold Hennessy had recognized the problem sooner than most, and in 1975 set out to build a toilet that would use less than 4 litres (or 1 US gallon) per flush. A former construction-company owner, he was also a skilled, self-taught plumber. However, it was still decades before low-flow toilet rebates and public service announcements on water conservation, and it became clear that his high-tech toilet was “ahead of its time.” In 1977, he closed down his company, International Water Saver, and shut the doors on his Wellington, Ontario manufacturing plant.

Not content to let it go, Arnold developed a low-flow technology called Vacuity™, now marketed by US company Fluidmaster for commercial installations. But he still wanted to build a quiet, water-efficient toilet to eliminate the largest water-wasting culprit in the home. To solve the problem of leaky flappers, he decided to “tank” the standard approach. Instead, he developed prototypes of a new, flapperless system that used a tip-bucket to retain water in the toilet tank.

In 1998, nephew Philip Hennessy joined forces with Arnold, and with business partner Mark Hinchcliffe established Flapperless Inc. to develop, manufacture and market the innovation. By 1999, Arnold had a US patent on his original design. Further patents followed as Philip added to the technology.

Getting family involved made sense to Arnold, who had grown up in an Ontario farming family of 14 kids. “You worked together—you just did,” he says.

The company quickly outgrew the basement design-studio, and soon Flapperless Inc. set up shop in the same Wellington workshop where Arnold had established his first toilet factory. Together, Philip and his wife, children and mother-in-law assembled the toilet components that they had imported from the United States and Asia.

In 1999, Flapperless toilets were field tested for the first time, in a public housing project in Metro Toronto. The project was a success.

Philip’s son, Jerrad Hennessy, a science and economics graduate, has worked full time with Niagara Flapperless (COB Flapperless Inc.) since 2006. He says that the Manning Innovation Award is an honour for the family.

Says Arnold Hennessy, “I feel rewarded to know that I made something better—and it was recognized.”

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year the Foundation will award $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totalling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Canadians chosen at the 2008 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $3.9 million in prize money through its annual awards program.