The carburetor, carburettor, or carburetter (see spelling differences), also called carb (in North America) or carbie (chiefly in Australia) for short, is a device that mixes air and fuel for an internal-combustion engine. It was invented by Hungarian scientists Donát Bánki and János Csonka in 1893. Carburetors are still found in small engines and in older or specialized automobiles such as those designed for stock car racing. However, fuel injection, first introduced in the late 1950s and first successfully commercialized in the early 1970s, is now the preferred method of automotive fuel delivery. The majority of motorcycles still are carburated due to lower weight and cost, but as of 2005 many new models are now being introduced with fuel injection.
Most carbureted (as opposed to fuel-injected) engines have a single carburetor, though some engines use multiple carburetors. Older engines used updraft carburetors, where the air enters from below the carburetor and exits through the top. This had the advantage of never "flooding" the engine, as any liquid fuel droplets would fall out of the carburetor instead of into the intake manifold; it also lent itself to use of an oil bath air cleaner, where a pool of oil below a mesh element below the carburetor is sucked up into the mesh and the air is drawn through the oil covered mesh; this was an effective system in a time when paper air filters did not exist. Beginning in the late 1930s, downdraft carburetors were the most popular type for automotive use in the United States. In Europe, the sidedraft carburettors replaced downdraft as underbonnet/underhood space decreased and the use of the SU-type carburetor (and similar units from other manufacturers) increased. Small propeller-driven flat aircraft engines still use the updraft carburetor design.
The carburetor works on Bernoulli's principle: the fact that moving air has lower pressure than still air, and that the faster the movement of the air, the lower the pressure. The throttle or accelerator does not control the flow of liquid fuel. Instead, it controls the amount of air that flows through the carburetor. Faster flows of air and more air entering the carburetor draws more fuel into the carburetor due to the partial vacuum that is created.