Published on March 14th, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mazda6 i-ELOOP System Explained
The quest toward better petrol mileage and incremental gains isn’t relegated just to engine and transmission improvements, or to aerodynamics or weight reduction. Even when we’re not talking hybrids, the move to smart electric components can bring some significant gains.
Beyond electric power steering, so-called ‘smart’ alternators are a next step that a number of automakers have already taken. But the 2013 Mazda 6 is leapfrogging that, with a radical new brake-energy regeneration system called i-ELOOP.
This system made its world debut in the all new Mazda 6, and it’s the first such system to use a special double-layer capacitor—not a battery—to quickly store away energy during times when you’re coasting, decelerating, or braking. Then when accelerating, the variable-voltage alternator runs at its lowest capacity (and load), releasing energy from the capacitor to run accessories.
Capacitors for bigger mileage gains
Simply put, batteries are limited in how quickly they can store energy; on the other hand, storing or releasing a charge quite rapidly is a strength of capacitors. According to Mazda, there’s about a ten-percent accessory loss in the act of generating electricity, and the automaker aims to recover much of that with i-ELOOP.
Mazda confirms that the system works much like the system that BMW had, a few years ago on introduction, called Brake Energy Regeneration (and now implemented throughout that luxury automaker’s model line); although Mazda should be able to make an even more significant impact on fuel-efficiency thanks to the capacitor storage.
Better numbers, on the highway especially
We expect that i-ELOOP itself will produce better numbers for the Mazda 6. Also the gains from the system will be greatest on the highway, where the system most helps reduce the load on the engine.