Suspicions Surround Water-Fueled Car and The Death of its Inventor

Stanley Allen Meyer's idea for fueling his dune buggy with water may have been crazy--and quite possibly may have never succeeded on a significant scale--but the strange occurrences of his life and death will ensure his cult status and inspiration for individualistic inventors and story lovers.

A recent article from the Columbus Dispatch gives a summary of Meyer's research, his claim of a dune buggy that could cross the US on 22 gallons of water, and his mysterious death nine years ago.

Meyer, his twin brother Stephen, and two Belgian investors were celebrating Meyer's creation of a dune buggy that could turn water into hydrogen fuel efficiently enough to power the vehicle in lieu of fossil fuels. It was March 20, 1998, in a Cracker Barrel in Grove City, Ohio. After a sip of cranberry juice, Meyer clutched his throat, ran outside, vomited profusely, and died. According to his brother, his last words were: "They poisoned me."

Stephen was confused at the sudden death of his 56-year-old brother. But when he told the Belgian investors the next day that his brother had died, their complete silence and lack of sympathy aroused his suspicions. Local police investigated the death for three years, but in the end, the coroner's report listed the cause of death as a brain aneurysm.

After nine years, why is Meyer's story resurfacing now? According to the Dispatch, Meyer's more than 20 patents on his water-fuel technology will be expiring by the end of the year. In this time of leaving no rock unturned in the quest for alternative fuels, curious researchers may be interested in looking into Meyer's idea. Once and for all, the controversial science will be either confirmed, or discounted as science fiction.

Images from Meyer's documentaryImages from Meyer's documentaryMany times in his life, Meyer was called a fraud and suffered humiliating defeats. He was sued numerous times by unpleased investors, but otherwise ignored by most of his local community. Meyer is not completely forgotten, however. Besides his self-created documentary in 1980, he was featured in a BBC documentary in 1995, and is part of a book by Kentucky Water Fuel Museum owner James Robey called Water Car published in 2006.

In the BBC documentary, called It Runs on Water and narrated by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, Meyer demonstrated his "water fuel cell" in a car. He said that his 1.6 liter Volkswagon Dune Buggy could cross the US on 22 gallons of water. This is because the car could supposedly run perpetually without fuel since the car's battery could be continuously recharged. He never demonstrated this claim, though, and lawsuits followed.

Meyer's water fuel cellMeyer's water fuel cellThe idea behind Meyer's innovation is the simple process of electrolysis. By passing an electrical current through water, the bonded hydrogen and oxygen can be separated and burned to power a car engine. Electrolysis has been known since at least the 1800s, and is used today to create a small amount of hydrogen in power plants, to produce certain elements, and to produce the oxygen breathed by astronauts in space.

High-temperature electrolysis (HTE) is even currently being investigated for hydrogen car fuel, although scientists explain that HTE is much less efficient than other methods for producing hydrogen.

That's where Meyer's claims become dubious to experts. According to Michael Faraday's First Law of Electrolysis in 1832, the amount of elements separated by an electrical current is proportional to the amount of charge applied. This amount of electrical energy is very large, and as a law of physics, it can't be changed.

Meyer's work, however, claims an ultra-high conversion efficiency-in essence, defying the law of conservation of energy.

Yet, a few of his inventions did work. For example, Charles Hughes, who gave Meyer use of his garage for private work space in the late ‘70s, said that Meyer repaid him by making him things, some of which worked and some didn't. One invention that worked was rigging up Hughes' tractor to run on well water for 15 minutes. Hughes said that, when he smelled the exhaust, there were no fumes-only pure clean air.

Like all science, Meyer's claims can't be believed until thoroughly tested and validated, if anyone ever takes that initiative (and finds funding). Even if his ideas went a bit too far, his innovations can be considered one of the earliest investigations into an improved hydrogen fuel. From reading about his buyout offers and threats to stop his work by foreign governments, it's clear that at least some people believed in his work.

More information on Meyer's research, lawsuits, interviews, and patents can be found on Wikipedia's Water Fuel Cell page, as well as many more controversial sites throughout the Web.

Lisa Zyga
Science Blogger

Oct 11, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

first some of your facts are

first some of your facts are wrong. he did not use electrolysis he used high voltage felds and block amp flow.  in electrolysis you use amps to brack down water.  he does not creat a dead short in the water like in electrolysis. in hes system he turns the water in to a capacitor.

Oct 22, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

This can be done

 Greater than the 100% conversion efficiency (based on Faraday) can be achieved using Meyer's WFC designs. Once enough people have done this who have successfully escaped intimidation from unknown organisations, this concept will turn into a reality. Only a matter of time now...

Apr 25, 2008
by Anonymous


I'm no expert on this sort of stuff, so I can't verify the validity of it, but if it works, I'm all for it. On a different note, this would make a great pretense for a thriller novel...

May 22, 2008
by Anonymous

The Water Engine

You're right but it's already been written as a thriller. Check out David Mamet's "The Water Engine"...

Jun 20, 2008
by johnandrews52

Can we really run car with water?

Can we run our car with water and gas?        Can anybody tell me is the HHO Gas is real working or is another scam?  

Jun 23, 2008
by Anonymous

Why water increases the engine thermal efficiency?

The second law of thermodynamics states that no heat engine can have 100% thermal efficiency. In other words, no heat engine can convert heat energy completely into mechanical work. So, the amount of useful energy you can get from the burned hydrogen gas in the car engine cannot be equal to or more than the amount of energy used to separate the water molecules into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas by means of electrolysis with the car battery. As of now, if I am not mistaken, the current thermal efficiency of regular car engine is anywhere between 20% and 30%. So, what exactly the water does to increase the thermal efficiency? As we all know, the water stays in liquid state at standard room temperature and pressure, but the nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide don't. Since water has so much higher Molar Heat Capacity than nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide, we have to heat the water to increase its temperature up to the point it changes to steam to behave like nitrogen gas or carbon dioxide. The less energetic steam inside the heat engine tends to recover some of the waste heat energy as much as it can while the super heated gas created by internal combustion is in the process of expanding; and when the steam becomes more energetic but not as energetic as it was during the combustion, it converts the recovered waste energy into mechanical energy. And this is the main reason why the introduction of extra hydrogen gas in the car engine reduces the engine temperature and increases the engine thermal efficiency.

Jul 12, 2008
by Anonymous

To: Water as a supplement to gasoline!

Hey dude. Nice you can advertise you own website here, pretending to be a normal person who just happened to drop in here..

Sep 16, 2008
by Anonymous

ADD Advertising

Yeah, I agree. Stop tainting all the blogs with your advertising. I would like to see a car run on just water. I would like to buy a car that runs only on water. Someone want to explain how this can be achieved?


Sep 21, 2008
by Anonymous


Professor Michael Laughton, Admiral Sir Anthony Griffin, and Dr. Keith Hindley stated the cell remained remarkably cold, even after hours of gas production as Meyer's system appeared to operate on much smaller current than conventional electrolysis would require.

keywords: hours, cold, eye witnesses

Jan 28, 2009
by Anonymous


The HHO boost system can increase gas mileage to phenominal proportions. I've read in Water4Gas that it works by taking out the carbon deposits to make the car run better, and by making the fuel burn more completely.

Keywords: Water4Gas, water fueled cars

Jan 28, 2009
by Rachelio222

The Sytem:Validity and YES!

Those were by me. Just so you know. I decided to make an account after the fact. I just thought you might want to know who the author was.Foot in mouth