Mazda has unveiled a world first with its i-ELOOP regenerative braking system, the first example of its kind to use a capacitor. And while it doesn't sound like it's particularly ground breaking, the new technology is certainly advanced.
Standard batteries usually used in energy recovery systems take a while to charge and discharge when energy is called for – they're also pretty prone to deterioration as their life goes on – but Mazda's capacitor-based system manages to creep round these problems.
The capacitor in the new i-ELOOP system means large volumes of electricity can be stored almost instantly with a discharge of energy delivered just as quickly when called for.
The i-ELOOP moniker slapped on the system by Mazda certainly isn't one of the most snappily titled automotive acronyms there's ever been, but standing for intelligent energy loop it recognises Mazda's "intention to efficiently recycle energy in an intelligent way" according to the PR bumf.
Regenerative braking systems use electric motors or alternators to recoup energy wasted during braking, storing up the energy to power on board systems such as climate control and audio equipment, giving the standard battery and alternator a break from doing all the work.
As a result, Mazda's new i-ELOOP system features a new variable voltage alternator and a low-resistance capacitor and starts to recover kinetic energy the moment the driver lifts off the accelerator and the vehicle begins to decelerate.
The clever variable voltage alternator generates electricity at up to 25V for maximum efficiency before sending it to the capacitor for storage. This means the capacitor, which has been specially developed for use in a vehicle, can be fully charged in seconds.
Impressively the new i-ELOOP system in conjunction with Mazda's latest efficiency drive with its SKYACTIV technology can save up to 10% more fuel in stop-start traffic over a similar vehicle not equipped with the technology.
A pretty useful gain indeed, and combined with the benefits it'll give in terms of emissions performance, the i-ELOOP tech could be a pretty savvy option to specify when buying a new Mazda.