Cleaner Motoring with i-ELOOP
Mazda’s i-ELOOP system which has been launched with the all-new Mazda 6 range is a new system, which harvest’s, what essentially is ‘free’ engine power under braking or when running on a trailing throttle.
The most common solution to brake energy regeneration is capturing kinetic energy (the energy generated by a vehicle when it moves) that would otherwise be lost when slowing down. This energy is used to recharge batteries in electric and hybrid cars for example, or to power the on-board electrical network and save engine power and therefore save fuel.
These sort of systems have been used for some years, Formula One racing cars started using them in 2009, but Mazda’s unique i-ELOOP system, which is short for “intelligent Energy Loop” is the world’s first passenger car system to use a capacitor to store the electricity.
This remarkable new system is part of Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology which is available on the all-new Mazda 6.
“The i-ELOOP capacitor is a unique solution to the challenge of how to harvest free engine power,” explains Mazda Motors UK Managing Director Jeremy Thomson.
“One of the benefits of energy recovering systems is that they allow ancillary systems such as air-conditioning to be used without drivers having to worry about the detrimental effect on fuel consumption,” Thomson added.
“i-ELOOP is launched as part of Mazda’s ‘building block’ strategy, a step-by-step introduction of auxiliary electrical systems to SKYACTIV technology, allowing new breakthrough initiatives to be added as and when they are ready,” said Thomson.
The deceleration phase on a vehicle lasts only 10 seconds, realising the effectiveness of regenerative braking systems to date has been limited by the charging and storage drawbacks of conventional lead-acid starter batteries, Mazda engineers adopted an electric double layer capacitor (EDLC), which recharges fully in only a few seconds. An efficient 12V-25V variable voltage alternator generates the electricity and charges the EDLC; a DC/DC converter then steps down the voltage to power electrical components such as climate control air-conditioning and audio systems, with any surplus going to the starter battery.
This new i-ELOOP system is perfect to work with i-stop – the latter launched as standard on the Mazda CX-5 and the all new Mazda 6. There is no need to revert battery power even when Mazda’s idle stop system has shut the car off. During stop-and-go city driving, charging often resumes before the capacitor is fully discharged. i-ELOOP can therefore produce most if not all of a vehicle’s electricity needs, whereas normally some of the engine’s output is required just to drive the alternator. By freeing up this engine capacity, i-ELOOP increases fuel economy under everyday driving conditions.