Last week, Mazda released details of its new i-ELOOP regenerative braking system. The automaker claims the new capacitor-based system is the first of its kind, and can increase fuel mileage up to 10 percent. i-ELOOP which stands for Intelligent Energy Loop, will begin appearing on 2012 Mazda models.
Unlike other regenerative braking systems, like those used in hybrid cars that use a dedicated electric motor and battery, Mazda’s new system uses a capacitor that can be charged and discharged rapidly and can last many more cycles without deterioration compared to a battery.
Mazda’s system works toward the same goal as a hybrid’s — converting the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electricity as it decelerates; the stored energy is used to power the climate control, audio system and other vehicle electrical components. The Japanese automaker says the i-ELOOP system works with the company’s i-Stop start-stop system to extend the time the engine can be shut off.
Because i-ELOOP doesn’t use a dedicated electric motor, it adds a new 12 to 25 volt variable voltage alternator, a low resistance electric double layer capacitor, and a DC/DC converter. When the vehicle begins to decelerate, the alternator generates as much as 25 volts to quickly charge the Electric Double Layer Capacitor (EDLC) for electrical energy storage. The DC/DC converter steps voltage down from 25 to 12 before the released energy is sent to the vehicle’s electrical system. i-ELOOP can also charge the vehicle’s battery if needed.
When the vehicle is decelerating or idling, the engine doesn’t need to burn as much fuel to generate energy because the regenerative braking system recovers kinetic energy to store as electricity. Mazda says that i-ELOOP and i-Stop are part of its SkyActiv Technology strategy to maximize the efficiency of all aspects of its internal combustion engines by increasing fuel economy and reducing fuel consumption.