MAZDA OFFER CLEANER MOTORING AGAINST THE ODDS
When braking or running on a trailing throttle what could be termed ‘free’ engine power can be generated – and how to collect and utilise this power is something that has caused engineers many sleepless nights, especially when it can be used to recharge batteries in electric and hybrid cars or to power the on-board electrical network and save engine power and therefore save fuel.
Seemingly the answer may well lie in brake energy regeneration: essentially capturing kinetic energy (the energy generated by a vehicle when it moves) that would otherwise be lost when slowing down. Formula One racing cars started to use systems that use them back in 2009, but now Mazda have introduced their unique i-ELOOP system – with i-ELOOP being short for “intelligent Energy Loop.”)
So let’s say hello to the all-new Mazda6 – the world’s first passenger car system to use a capacitor to store the electricity, and the first of Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology models to be available with i-ELOOP.
“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.”
For all you scientists out there (or parents with children doing physics at school) here’s a bit of a breakdown as to how it all works.
The deceleration phase of a typical vehicle lasts only about 10 seconds so the Mazda engineers adopted an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC), which recharges fully in only a few seconds. The EDLC itself is charged by a 12V-25V variable voltage alternator, and then a DC/DC converter steps down the voltage to power electrical components such as the climate control air-conditioning and audio systems, with any surplus going to the starter battery.
A fully charged capacitor can run the vehicle’s electrical systems for a minute or so, making the i-ELOOP the perfect companion for i-stop – launched as standard on the Mazda CX-5 and the all-new Mazda6. Whilst driving in the city, journeys are often stop-and-go, so in this case the i-ELOOP can produce most if not all of a vehicle’s electricity needs, instead of some of the engine’s output being used just to drive the alternator. And as a bonus, fuel economy is increased under everyday driving conditions.
“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 Jeremy Thomson.