The Truth About Stanley Meyer and the Water Fuel Cell

If someone told you that they invented a water-powered car, you’d rightfully have your doubts. However, Stanley Meyer managed to garner a significant number of believers in his claim to have developed the “water fuel cell,” a device that, if retrofitted onto an automobile, could allegedly make its engine run solely on water.

His untimely death in 1998—only two years after a series of lawsuits involving his invention—only fueled conspiratorial speculation about Meyer.

Who Was Stanley Meyer?

There are many conflicting stories about Stanley Meyer. This makes it difficult to ascertain who he really was. Many of his supposed accomplishments do seem like fabrications. What we do know is that he was born on August 24, 1940. Since childhood, he dreamed of being an inventor. According to his brother Stephen, he and Stan would “make [their] own toys.”

Stan’s passion for inventing spilled into his adulthood. He patented several of his inventions. A confirmed list of his patented inventions can be viewed here. If you scour the internet for further information on Meyer, you will see the claim that he attempted to patent over 200,000 inventions. There is also talk of his winning a 1993 “Inventor of the Year” award, the details of which are muddy at best.

Stanley Meyer proponents assert that he was involved in NASA’s Project Gemini, as well as the Star Wars project. However, many contest these claims, pointing out that Meyer never graduated college and was not likely to have been hired to work on such monumental projects. 

What Is Stanley Meyer’s Water Fuel Cell?

stanley meyer
The blueprint for the water fuel cell
Source: Wikipedia

In 1992, Meyer patented the water fuel cell, a device that he said could be retrofitted onto any automobile to make its engine run on water. He even went as far as to claim that he had a working model of the device, which he attached to his now-famous dune buggy, the whereabouts of which are currently unknown.

Meyer invited media outlets to watch him drive his water-powered buggy; one such news report is still available to watch here. The problem with these reports is that they do not conclusively prove that Meyer’s buggy was running on water, as opposed to gasoline. Still, news of the water fuel cell became widespread, as did Meyer’s assertion that one could drive from New York to Los Angeles “on only 22 gallons of water.”

Of course, people questioned why Meyer did not make this trip himself to prove the efficacy of his invention. Nevertheless, the uptick in press alone was enough to garner investors for the water fuel cell.

The Science Behind the Water Fuel Cell

At the very least, Meyer offered at least some explanation as to how the water fuel cell worked. He said it used electrolysis—the separation of water’s hydrogen and oxygen—to create energy. 

The idea to use hydrogen as an energy source was nothing new at the time. Even today, scientists are working to create hydrogen-powered vehicles. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar even drove a hybrid car that ran partly on hydrogen, though he could not drive it without an engineer present, and finding hydrogen sources was difficult.

The problem with electrolysis is that it uses more energy than it produces. And Meyer was never clear on the water fuel cell’s initial energy source (that which instigated the process of electrolysis). 

Lawsuits Against Stanley Meyer

In 1996, allegations of fraud began to rise against Meyer. Two investors sued him after expert witness Michael Laughton—professor of Electrical Engineering at Queen Mary University, London—examined the water fuel cell and determined that there was nothing revolutionary about it. In court, three additional unnamed expert witnesses attested to Laughton’s claims.

Ultimately, the court found that Meyer had “committed gross and egregious fraud,” and he was ordered to repay the two investors $25,000.

Stanley Meyer Death

On March 21, 1998, Stanley and his brother Stephen were having dinner with two Belgian investors Philippe Vandemoortele and Mare Vancraeyenest. According to Stephen, “Stanley took a sip of cranberry juice. Then he grabbed his neck, bolted out of the door, and dropped to his knees and vomited violently. I ran outside and asked him, ‘What’s wrong?’ to which Stanley replied, ‘They poisoned me.’ And that was his dying declaration.”

How Did Stanley Meyer Die?

Despite Meyer’s insistence that he was poisoned, the coroner ruled that he died of a cerebral aneurysm. Still, believers in his work continue to insist that he was murdered because of the impending consequences of his invention. If the water fuel cell did indeed work as he claimed it did, the oil industry would collapse. 

Even if one doesn’t believe in the functionality of Meyer’s device, the notion that he was murdered doesn’t seem too farfetched. He did, according to a court ruling, rip off investors. Obviously, this angered people. And it’s not unlikely that someone took their anger too far.

Nevertheless, the coroner did not detect any common poisons in his body.

The Legacy of Stanley Meyer

If the water fuel cell worked as Meyer claimed, it is odd that no one who knew him took the device and demonstrated its efficacy following his death. Still, his work continues to draw attention from those looking to develop alternative automotive fuel methods. Several amateur inventors have even attempted to recreate the water fuel cell themselves.

Recently, for example, there arose a crowd-funded campaign to recreate Meyer’s water-powered car. However, it only garnered $770 worth of donations. That being said, it’s unlikely that the people behind it were scam artists. One can tell from their promotional video that they were truly passionate about the late inventor’s work.

Whether you believe that Stanley Meyer revolutionized automotive technology or not, his story remains a fascinating oddity in the world of conspiracies. 

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