I like your comment about peak production. I will show my age, but I have heard this; Peak production is only 3-4 years away for the last 30 years. Supply and demand is critical. As long as gas is cheaper than alternative, guess which we will use.
Research is not necessarily driven by need. It is driven by what voters want. If voters are technically illiterate then the research funding gets blown on projects which give voters the warm fuzzy feeling but are not necessarily on track to produce meaningful results.
As for "peak oil"... what is really holding back the flow of oil is OPEC controlling production to keep prices up.
Even if/when oil runs out there is a huge amount of coal that can be synthesized into oil. Coal reserves are vast: enough for hundreds of years. The Germans ans South Africans (and no doubt others) have been doing this for ages. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sasol
I am of course still keen that we find better energy resources, but let's please research these with a steady head. No need to panic for a few generations yet!
It's difficult to envision "filling stations" with viscous, sludge like materials that get "exchanged." The opportunities for contamination and subsequent discontinuities in service seem overwhelming. Particularly when you compare the process to an electrical hookup. Exchanging batteries, even if they weigh 200 lbs each seems much more tractable than pumping sludge.
At $250/KWh, they still have a long way to go. I pay less than $0.25/KWh for my home electricity, and this is what the current electric cars are running on. Another question is how many KWh it takes to produce the magic liquid that can generate a KWh.
It is not hard, it is called photosynthesis. Unfortunately you need to get the various inputs together at the same place (sunlight, CO2, biological waste as fertilizer) and then efficiently convert the resulting plant to fuel without conflicting with any other land use or plant use.
There is simply not enough land area to do this, for instance it would take around 10 times the agricultural area of Europe to produce enough biofuel for Europe's vehicles, and we need to use that land area for growing food, fibre etc
Algae may get around this to some extent (there is a lot of ocean) but this is very much unproven, and we are putting a pretty hard strain on fish stocks etc already without any extra strain massive algae farming might cause.
Flow battery: The goal of reaching 500Wh/kg is a good ratio of power to weight and automobiles will have high benefits.Similarly to reach 250kwh energy density is also a need for the electric vehicles success.The process of re energising the used electrolyte is the master key to the success of this battery
This is something new to me and looks interesting. How long the battery supplies power with one charge? If there is no fuel storage carrying spare electrolyte with the car, won't this be inconvenient? But then again, I can't think of a way to supply power to run the pumps when the battery is drained out of power. I’m not yet convinced that this could be a replacement for gasoline. But definitely a novel idea.