Mazda has developed an innovative way to harvest the so-called free engine power and turn it into something more useful for the vehicle –i-ELOOP system, short for “intelligent Energy Loop.” Vehicle engineers have been harvesting free engine power through brake energy regeneration, which involves capturing kinetic energy generated by a vehicle when it moves.
The energy would then be used to recharge batteries in electric and hybrid cars to power the on-board electrical network and save engine power, thereby saving fuel. Systems based on that approach have been used, and Formula One racing cars have been employing them since 2009. As for Mazda’s i-ELOOP, it is the first passenger car system in the world to use a capacitor to store the electricity. Sporting such i-ELOOP technology for the first time is the all-new Mazda6, one of the carmaker’s SKYACTIV technology models.
Jeremy Thomson, Mazda Motors UK Managing Director, remarked that i-ELOOP capacitor is a unique solution to the challenge of how to harvest free engine power. He noted that such energy recovering systems allow ancillary systems such as air-conditioning to be used without drivers having to worry about its effects on fuel consumption.
Mazda launched i-ELOOP as part of its ‘building block’ strategy, which involves a step-by-step introduction of auxiliary electrical systems to SKYACTIV technology, adding new breakthrough initiatives as and when they are ready, Thomson revealed.
Since the average vehicle deceleration phase lasts only about 10 seconds, conventional lead-acid starter batteries’ charging and storage abilities limit effectiveness of the current regenerative braking systems. However, Mazda engineers adopted an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC) that recharges fully in only a few seconds