Yesterday, Google rolled out a beta version of its Advanced Patent Search application and the first thing I used it for, of course, was to do an exact search for “hydrogen car“. The third result on the page was for US Pat. 4085709 – Filed December 4, 1975, which was dubbed “UCLA Hydrogen Car”. This peaked my interest so I investigated more fully.
The citations for this patent dated back to 1932, with a patent issued to Walter Drabold for “Charge-Forming Apparatus for Internal Combustion Engines”. The last citation was issued in February 24, 1976 for “Fuel Regenerated Non-Polluting Internal Combustion Engine” (Patent 3939806). This patent caught my attention even more than the other two.
Patent number 3939806 talked about introducing an electrolysis cell to a vehicle with a conventional gasoline internal combustion engine so that water could be split into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen and oxygen could then both be used as a fuel additives. One of the unique features of patent 3939806 is that it proposed that this vehicle have two carburetors, one for the conventional gasoline flow (which would now receive oxygen as well) and one entirely for the hydrogen gas.
According to this patent, the gasoline / oxygen carburetor and the hydrogen carburetor would be linked together and “… operable to vary the ratio of hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuel which is introduced into the combustion chamber of said engine block.”
Now, if you’d like to know why this was of such interest, check out Wednesday’s blog entry to see how this technology has developed over the past 30 years and what the future holds for electrolyzing water under the hood to run our cars and vehicles.