On March 20, 1998, four men raised their glasses in the Cracker Barrel in Grove City. They were Stanely Allen Meyer, his brother, and two Belgian investors. Meyer boasted that his invention of the water-powered car could turn water into hydrogen fuel to drive his dune buggy. All it needs is 20 gallons of water.
Then Meyer sipped from his glass of cranberry juice. Suddenly, he grabbed his neck, ran outside, fell to his knees, and vomited.
“I ran outside and asked him, ‘What’s wrong?’ ” said his brother, Stephen Meyer. “He said, ‘They poisoned me.’ That was his dying declaration.”
The Conspiracy Behind Meyer’s Death
Stanely Allen Meyer’s death at age 57 is the subject of many rumors and conspiracies. His alleged final words accused someone of murdering him. Nevertheless, his death could have been by natural means. The Franklin County coroner ruled that he died from a brain aneurysm. Meyer did have high blood pressure during his life. The only drugs detected in his body were pain relievers used for seizure treatment, lidocaine, and phenytoin.
“Meyer’s death was laced with all sorts of stories of conspiracy, cloak-and-dagger stories,” said Grove City Police Lt. Steve Robinette, the lead detective on the case.
However, the nature of Meyer’s work, the water-powered car, drew all sorts of attention to him, allegedly mysterious strangers from abroad, government spies, and buyout offers. After all, if his invention proved to work, it could have ended the global reliance on fossil fuels. His death investigation lasted for three months by the Grove City Police and was speculated by many others.
Stephen Meyer seems to agree that his brother’s death wasn’t an accident, especially when he told the Belgians’ the terrible news the next day.
“I told them that Stan had died, and they never said a word,” he recalled, “absolutely nothing, no condolences, no questions. I never ever had a trust of those two men ever again.”
Although the police’s investigation included recorded interviews from over a dozen witnesses, the two Belgians’ — Phillippe Vandemoortele and Marc Vancraeyenest — were missing. It’s possible that their interview was not recorded, according to Robinette. Without any proof of foul play, the police ended their investigation in accordance with the coroner’s report. 
Building the Water-Powered Car
Meanwhile, another question arises. Did the water-powered car really work? Meyer became inspired to turn water into fuel in 1975, after the Arab oil embargo. In the 1995 documentary, It Runs on Water, Meyer said, “It became imperative that we must try to bring in an alternative fuel source and do it very quickly.” He claimed that his dune buggy could ride across the United States using only 75 liters of water.
The basis for hydro fuel is electrolysis. In essence, electricity flows through the water and separates it into its components of oxygen and hydrogen. Meyer’s invention accomplishes this process within seconds.
“It takes so much energy to separate the H2 from the O,” said Ohio State University professor emeritus Neville Reay. “That energy has pretty much not changed with time. It’s a fixed amount, and nothing changes that.”
The Law of Conservation of Energy dictates that energy can’t be destroyed or created. But Meyer’s water-powered car rejects that theory. “Basically, it says you can’t get something for nothing,” Reay said. “He may have had a nice way to store the hydrogen and use it to make a very effective motor, but there is no way to do something fancy and separate hydrogen with less energy.”
In other words, water alone is not fuel; fuel comes only from electrolysis. Splitting water isn’t a simple task, and Meyer’s method to do this consumed more energy than it created. This is why hydrogen fuel has not yet become a viable fuel option nowadays, although researchers continue to work on ways to harness water as fuel. 
Despite not having the science to back his claims, Meyer’s work attracted supporters and investors, like William E. Brooks, whose money was later returned in a 1994 settlement. Additionally, two businessmen took Meyer to court, who found a “gross and egregious fraud” in Meyer’s contract negotiation. They also got their money back.
Meyer had an appointment for Michael Laughton — Professor of Electrical Engineering at Queen Mary, University of London — to examine the car. However, on the day of the appointment, Meyer made ‘a lame excuse’ and the test never occurred. Later on, his water fuel cell was examined in court by three expert witnesses. They said there “was nothing revolutionary about the cell at all and it was simply using conventional electrolysis.” 
Where is the dune buggy now? A longtime friend of Meyer’s was reported to have shown the car to a reporter in the basement of a house south of Columbus. Although this invention is now in the public domain, no manufacturer has attempted to copy his designs. However, research into hydrogen fuel continues and progresses, and Stanely Allen Meyer’s water-powered car has become a part of its history.
- “The car that ran on water.” The Columbus Dispatch. July 8, 2007
- “Why Don’t We Have Water Powered Cars Yet?” Life Noggin. Carly Casella.October 7, 2019
- “Inventor Of ‘Water-Powered Car’ Died Screaming ‘They Poisoned Me’.” Unilad. January 3, 2018
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