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201226 Dec

mazda i-eloop

KERS or Kinetic Energy Recovery System has been in use in Formula 1 cars since 2009, but now Mazda has developed its own KERS system for road cars, dubbed i-ELOOP, or intelligent Energy Loop to store electricity in a capacitor, a world-first for road cars. This is a form of micro hybrid technology to power the car's electrical systems, and does not send any motive power to the wheels, however.

 

The i-ELOOP system debuts in the new Mazda6 family sedan. Unlike conventional energy-recovery systems which rely on lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries, i-ELOOP sends the charge during braking and deceleration to a capacitor. This capacitor, which is of the EDLC or electric double layer capacitor type, gets fully charged in a matter of seconds. A variable voltage 12V-25V alternator charges the EDLC, which is then stepped down through a DC/DC converter to power systems such as the climate control and audio system. Any surplus charge is then sent to the starter battery.

 

Mazda’s i-ELOOP system is a modular design, which can be integrated with Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology and introduced in other models in future. The i-ELOOP system works in conjunction with the start-stop function, ensuring that the electrical requirements for the in-car ancillaries are powered even when the engine is off, thereby not drawing any current from the car’s battery. This not only ensures a more comfortable in-cabin experience in stop and go city traffic, it also ensures improved fuel economy and lower electric load through the car’s components.

 

mazda i-elop display

Display in instrument panel indicates charging and discharging of i-ELOOP system on the new Mazda6.

 

Mazda’s experiments have shown that in normal driving a regular deceleration phase lasts for about 10 seconds, which is more than sufficient to charge the EDLC. A fully-charged capacitor can run the air-conditioning and stereo for a full minute or so.

By their very nature, capacitors are more resilient to frequent charging and discharging cycles, more so than conventional batteries, which has a positive cascade effect on the car’s battery.

 

After the Mazda6, the next model likely to be fitted with the i-ELOOP system could be the CX-5 compact SUV, which also comes with start-stop fitted as standard. How soon other manufactures adapt and adopt this technology will be an indicator of the viability of this technology.

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