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
Popular water fuel kits to help car and truck owners save
gasoline and the environment.
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
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
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.