Mazda has developed a regenerative braking system for cars that, it says, can cut fuel consumption by as much as 10%.It’s called i-ELOOP and, the automaker says, is, the first of its kind to use a capacitor. It will start to appear in Mazda products from 2012. i-ELOOP converts the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electricity during deceleration and uses that power for the aircon, audio system and several other electrical components. The capacitor technology in i-ELOOP can store large volumes of electricity and, unlike a battery, can not only be charged and discharged rapidly but is also resistant to deterioration through prolonged use.POPULAR FUEL-SAVERThe name i-ELOOP is an abbreviation for “intelligent energy loop” (the word intelligent is a favourite with automakers though of course such systems are anything but!) and “represents Mazda’s intention to efficiently recycle energy in an intelligent way” (there it is again!).Regenerative braking systems are growing in popularity as a fuel-saver. They use an electric motor or alternator to generate electricity as the vehicle decelerates, recovering a portion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy. Unlike the regenerative braking found in hybrid vehicles, Mazda’s solution doesn’t need a dedicated electric motor and battery.It starts to recover kinetic energy the moment the driver lifts off the accelerator. The variable-voltage alternator (12-25V) generates electricity at up to 25V for maximum efficiency before sending it to the capacitor for storage. The capacitor, developed for use in a vehicle, can be fully charged in seconds. The DC/DC converter steps down the electricity from 25V to 12V before it is distributed directly to the ’s electrical components.In stop/start driving, Mazda says, the system can decrease fuel use by 10%.TOKYO DEMOMazda is also working to maximise the efficiency of internal combustion engines with its Skyactive technology. By combining it with stop/start, i-ELOOP and other electric devices unnecessary fuel-burn is eliminated.i-ELOOP will be demonstrated at this week's Tokyo auto show in the Takeri concept car, a next-generation mid-sized sedan that also uses Skyactiv tech.Mazda’s first vehicle to hit the European market (and consequently South Africa) with the full range of Skyactiv will be the CX-5 compact SUV, set for launch in early 2012. This all-new vehicle promises outstanding fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, Mazda says, along with “exhilarating driving” along the lines of that given by the MX-5 sports car.