Mazda is unveiling its i-ELOOP regenerative braking system at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. This is the world-first example of the technology, with the new system being the only example of its kind to use a capacitor.
This is significant because the new Mazda invention heralds a big improvement on current energy recovery management systems.
The i-ELOOP branding given to the system by Mazda stands for “intelligent energy loop” and recognises the Japanese firm’s intention to efficiently recycle energy in an intelligent way.
Regular regenerative braking systems use electric motors or alternators to recoup energy wasted during braking, storing upcharge to power onboard systems such as climate control and audio equipment, reducing the electrical drain on a standard battery and alternator.
Mazda’s new i-ELOOP system takes this principle a step on. It features a variable voltage alternator and a low-resistance capacitor, recovering kinetic energy the moment the driver lifts off the accelerator and the vehicle begins to decelerate.
The clever variable voltage alternator generates electricity at up to 25V for maximum efficiency before sending it to the capacitor for storage. This means the capacitor, which has been specially developed for use in a vehicle by Mazda, can be fully charged in seconds.
Indeed, the advanced capacitors are key to the efficiency of the system. The standard batteries usually used in energy recovery systems take comparatively longer to charge and discharge when energy is called for. They’re also prone to deterioration as their life goes on. However, Mazda’s capacitor-based system manages to mitigate these problems. The capacitor in the i-ELOOP system means large volumes of electricity can be stored almost instantaneously, with a discharge of energy when called for delivered just as quickly.
Impressively, the new i-ELOOP system in conjunction with Mazda’s latest efficiency drive with its SKYACTIV technology can save up to 10% more fuel in stop-start traffic over a similar vehicle not equipped with the technology.
A pretty useful gain indeed, and combined with the benefits it’ll give in terms of emissions performance, the i-ELOOP system appears to be an extremely worthwhile option to specify when buying a new Mazda.