In 1917, the same year that the United States was involved in WWI, an American inventor approached a cabinet member of President Woodrow Wilson's government and offered a revolutionary new 2 cent energy tablet that could 10 gallons of common tap water into a gasoline substitute fuel. The United States government want to buy this invention because it could help to win the war by giving the American, British and French forces an advantage over Germany.
The U.S. government arranged for a closed laboratory test of the revolutionary new invention, where a tiny amount of water was able to power a brand new gasoline engine for about one minute. The government was very impressed, and asked the inventor Charles Elton to wait in a room for a few minutes while they were going to sign a contract to buy the new invention for a reported $10 million dollars. Elton prevented the government from running lab analysis of the product by dumping all of the extra water fuel down the drain before the lab test.
But mysteriously, Charles Elton, disappeared from the waiting room at the government offices and was never heard from again. Federal agents from the FBI, which was formed in 1908 questioned every American by the name of Charles Elton in the country, but could never find any trace of the man.
To this day, the secret behind the little pills that could turn common tap water into fuel remain a mystery. Was Charles Elton kidnapped? During the war, you might expect the Germans to kidnap someone that could turn the tide against them, however since the Germans never came out with this invention, then it appears they were not involved. What about the oil industry? Did some agents of big oil kidnap Charles Elton to keep his invention off the market? Or was Charles Elton involved in an elaborate hoax, despite a carefully government controlled test, to defraud the government and then disappeared out of fear.
Some websites such as the one run by the Amazing Randi, which attempts to debunk scams and tricks, questioned whether the pill was actually some sort of acetylene derived product. Why the inventor mysteriously vanished has never been explained. It's a very strange true story and one of the greatest mysteries of all time. The true answer will never be known.