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Water Carburetor

Henry "Dad" Garrett and his son Charles H. Garrett filed for a patent for a water carburetor (electrolytic carburetor as they called it) on July 2, 1935. The U. S. patent 2,006,676 outlines an invention in which water may be split into hydrogen and oxygen atoms and mixed with the air in an internal combustion engine.

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Water Carburetor

The hydrogen and oxygen for the water carburetor are created by the electrolysis of H2O. According to the patent, "Still another object of the invention is the provision of means whereby the hydrogen and oxygen resulting from electrolysis may be formed in separate compartments, and a further object of the invention is the provision of means to periodically reverse the direction of the current flow and thereby alternate the evolution of the gases in the separate compartments, to be later intermingled."

The patent goes on in greater detail about the water carburetor and on September 8, 1935 the Dallas Morning News picked up the story about the creation of the device. Now, one cannot talk about Dad Garrett's water carburetor without talking about the character of the man.

Henry "Dad" Garrett

Many people of the years have tried to tear down the image of Dad Garrett, proclaiming him a charlatan and a snake oil salesman. But, as the Dallas Morning News points out, this is the opposite of who Dad Garret really was. Henry Dad Garrett was born to an Episcopalian missionary in 1861.

When he was 15 years old the family moved to Dallas, Texas where he lived the whole rest of his life until he died in the 1950s. Known as a deeply spiritual man, Dad Garrett devoted his life to public service. In 1912 he invented an emergency dispatch service for the local fire department, setting up Dallas' first municipal radio station and emergency dispatch station.

Later, in 1923, Garrett would invent the first automatic traffic light system in the country. He did this to help drivers and ensure that the emergency vehicles had the right of way. Soon, other cities all over the country would be putting up similar traffic lights.

Garrett did not make a dime off his invention because a court judge later said the invention was too big and of such great public service that no one man should profit from such an invention. Dad Garrett was also an accomplished musician and gave free concerts to the public downtown.

Water Carburetor

The water carburetor was a labor of love for Garrett. He may not have been as motivated in marketing his invention since he once before saw his traffic light invention taken away from him "for the good of the public". In addition, times were different in the 1930s when Garrett invented his water carburetor.

Gasoline and oil were relatively cheap and people were not as concerned about the environment, global warming and greenhouse gases as they are today. The water carburetor was more of a novelty that didn't quite catch the public fancy at that time.

But, I only tell this story, to let you know that water fuel has been around for a long time. People have known about it for generations. Like many good inventions of the past, however, sometimes they get second chances and that time is now. Because of high gas prices, global warming and the desire for energy independence, people are giving water carburetors a second look. And, a third.

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