IMAGE: FUEL CELL VEHICLES AT RESEARCH CENTER
California Fuel Cell Partnership
President Bush will visit this fuel cell research center in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday. Some of the fuel cell vehicles tested at the California Fuel Cell Partnership are lined up outside the center.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/21/2006 1:38:49 PM ET 2006-04-21T17:38:49

President Bush will focus on the potential of pollution-free fuel cells on this Earth Day, visiting the top industry research hub in the world on Saturday.

Bush promoted hydrogen fuel cell cars in his State of the Union address in January, calling for stepped-up research in that area as well as with hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles and alternative fuels.

The president will tour the California Fuel Cell Partnership, which brings together various industry players at its Sacramento facility.

That stop also will allow Bush to talk about government efforts to address rising gas prices, though most experts say fuel-cell vehicles probably will not be ready for widespread use for two or three decades.

The auto industry adopted California as a research hub because of its history of trying to battle smog with policies and technology.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is also bullish on fuel cells, and wants to build hydrogen fueling stations along the state’s major highways as a way to kickstart the technology.

Obstacles to a shift from the internal combustion engine to fuel cells include the lack of a hydrogen infrastructure and the cost of making hydrogen. In addition, the fuel cells themselves are still significantly more expensive to build than a traditional engine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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