US20150351456A1 - Electronic cigarette - Google Patents

Electronic cigarette Download PDF

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US20150351456A1
US20150351456A1 US14/759,025 US201414759025A US2015351456A1 US 20150351456 A1 US20150351456 A1 US 20150351456A1 US 201414759025 A US201414759025 A US 201414759025A US 2015351456 A1 US2015351456 A1 US 2015351456A1
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Prior art keywords
cartridge
section
electronic cigarette
defined
reservoir
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Abandoned
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US14/759,025
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David R. Johnson
Kenneth D. Cook
Lee Kang
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Perrigo L Co
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Perrigo L Co
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Priority to US201361750081P priority Critical
Application filed by Perrigo L Co filed Critical Perrigo L Co
Priority to PCT/US2014/010659 priority patent/WO2014110119A1/en
Priority to US14/759,025 priority patent/US20150351456A1/en
Assigned to L. PERRIGO COMPANY reassignment L. PERRIGO COMPANY ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: JOHNSON, DAVID R., KANG, LEE, COOK, Kenneth D.
Publication of US20150351456A1 publication Critical patent/US20150351456A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A24TOBACCO; CIGARS; CIGARETTES; SMOKERS' REQUISITES
    • A24FSMOKERS' REQUISITES; MATCH BOXES
    • A24F47/00Smokers' requisites not provided for elsewhere, e.g. devices to assist in stopping or limiting smoking
    • A24F47/002Simulated smoking devices, e.g. imitation cigarettes
    • A24F47/004Simulated smoking devices, e.g. imitation cigarettes with heating means, e.g. carbon fuel
    • A24F47/008Simulated smoking devices, e.g. imitation cigarettes with heating means, e.g. carbon fuel with electrical heating means

Abstract

An electronic cigarette is provided in two or three sections. One section is a reusable barrel containing the electrical components, including a rechargeable battery and a heater or atomizer. Another section may include the atomizer and a replaceable and disposable cartridge having the desired volatile substance, such as nicotine, a medicament, and/or a flavoring agent.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/750,081 entitled ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE, filed on Jan. 8, 2013, by David R. Johnson, et al., the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to a battery-operated electronic cigarette for supplying vaporized nicotine or other materials to a user simulating the act of smoking.
  • There exists a variety of proposed electrical cigarettes to simulate the act of smoking but reducing and/or eliminating the harmful chemicals associated with actual cigarettes. Such efforts are illustrated in the following U.S. patents and published applications: U.S. Pat. Nos. 8,205,622; 8,091,558; 7,845,359; 7,726,320; 6,443,146; 6,196,218; 5,894,841; 5,865,185; 5,666,977; 5,564,442; 5,505,214; 5,249,586; 4,947,875; 4,947,874; 4,945,931; 4,945,928; 4,922,901; 4,907,606; 4,848,374; 4,735,217; 4,303,083; 3,200,819; 2011/0036346; 2011/0011396; 2010/0031968; 2010/0200008; 2009/0188490; 2008/0257367; and 2005/0016550.
  • Although some of the proposals have met with moderate success in the marketplace, the cost and reliability of such prior electrical cigarettes is questionable. Moreover, such prior art devices frequently expose nicotine in liquid form to direct contact with a heating or other vaporizing element resulting in contamination of the heating or vaporizing element. Accordingly, there is a need for a different approach which will provide a cost effective, reliable, and consumer-satisfying product for delivering a controlled amount of nicotine or other inhalant to the user which may be used for smoking cessation or nicotine replacement therapy.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In a preferred embodiment of the invention, an electronic cigarette is provided in two or three sections. One section is a reusable barrel containing the electrical components, including a rechargeable battery and a heater. Another section may include a replaceable and disposable cartridge having the desired volatile substance therein. In some designs, an atomizer is in a second section followed by a disposable cartridge section. The sections are sealably coupled to each other to form the completed electronic cigarette. In one embodiment of the invention, a first section provides heated air when the user draws air through a mouthpiece at the end of the disposable cartridge. The heated air flows through the volatile substance, providing visible smoke and vaporized nicotine or other inhalant for consumption by the user. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first section includes a heater coupled to the battery supply through an electrical control circuit controlled by a flow sensor, such that the heater is actuated upon inhaling by the user. By providing a heated air source separate from the volatile containing cartridge, the cost of manufacturing the replaceable cartridge is greatly reduced, and the quality and efficiency of the of the resultant product is improved.
  • In another embodiment, infrared radiation provided by an infrared light emitting diode (IR LED) is employed to direct infrared energy directly on a volatile target containing nicotine to vaporize the nicotine.
  • These and other features, objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following description thereof together with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a drawing in schematic form of a prior art electronic cigarette;
  • FIG. 2 is a drawing in schematic form of one embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 is a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4A is a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4B is a detailed schematic view of one of the sections of the electronic cigarette shown in FIG. 4A;
  • FIG. 4C is a detailed schematic view of another embodiment of one of the sections of the electronic cigarette shown in FIG. 4A;
  • FIG. 5A is a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5B is a detailed schematic view of one section of the electronic cigarette shown in FIG. 5A;
  • FIG. 6 is a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 6A is a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7A a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7B is a detailed schematic view of one of the sections of the electronic cigarette shown in FIG. 7A;
  • FIG. 8A a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of an electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 8B is a detailed schematic view of one embodiment of the cartridge employed with the electronic cigarette of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 8C is a detailed schematic view of another embodiment of the cartridge employed with the electronic cigarette of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 8D is a detailed schematic view of another embodiment of the cartridge employed with the electronic cigarette of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 8E is a detailed schematic view of another embodiment of the cartridge employed with the electronic cigarette of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 8F is a detailed schematic view of another embodiment of the cartridge employed with the electronic cigarette of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 8G is a detailed schematic view of another embodiment of the cartridge employed with the electronic cigarette of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 8H is a detailed schematic view of another embodiment of the cartridge employed with the electronic cigarette of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 9 is a drawing in schematic form of another embodiment of the electronic cigarette of the present invention;
  • FIG. 10 is a drawing in schematic form of an electronic cigarette of the present invention showing a cartridge removal system; and
  • FIG. 11 is a drawing in schematic form of an electronic cigarette of the present invention showing an IR LED as the vaporizing heat source.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • FIG. 1 shows a prior art electronic cigarette with a power head 10 and a replaceable aerosol chamber 12. The aerosol chamber 12 includes an atomizer, which is directly in communication with a nicotine supplying bottle that, in turn, supplies nicotine to the user through the mouthpiece when the user inhales on the mouthpiece. This prior art represents one approach to the manufacture of a two-part electronic cigarette with the power head 10 being reusable using a rechargeable lithium battery and the aerosol chamber 12 being replaceable at frequent intervals with replacement cartridges. For such purpose, a sealed coupling 11 for coupling the power head and aerosol chamber 12 is provided. As used herein an atomizer is any device that is employed to vaporize a volatile substance (which may include an active ingredient) to simulate smoke.
  • Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown the electronic cigarette 15 of one embodiment of the present invention. Electronic cigarette 15 includes a first section 20 and a second section 30. The first section 20 houses a rechargeable lithium ion battery 21 and, at its outer end, an LED 23 and lens to simulate a lighted cigarette. A microprocessor 24 is coupled to battery 21 and receives control signals from a flow sensor 25 when an individual inhales through opening 38 of the mouthpiece at the end of the second section 30. The microprocessor couples battery 21 to a heater 26 when flow sensor 25 detects the flow of incoming air through air intakes 28. This activates heater 26 to heat air, illustrated schematically by air 27. The heater is, in one embodiment, a resistance wire heater made of nichrome wire formed in a mesh to provide instant heat once power is applied. The mesh design allows a sufficient flow of heated air to vaporize nicotine in cartridge 32. Microprocessor 24 is also coupled by conductors 22 to LED 23 to illuminate LED 23 when a user inhales, thereby providing the illusion of a lighted cigarette.
  • A sealed bayonet coupling 29 extends between sections 20 and 30, such that the replaceable second section can be easily periodically replaced. The first section 20 includes a suitable recharging connector (not shown), such that the battery 21 can be recharged on a plug-in stand coupled to an AC supply, such that it can be reused multiple times. Section 20 is generally cylindrical and can be made of a durable material, such as stainless steel, aluminum, or the like. Heater 26 heats the air from intakes 28 to from about 140° C. to about 200° C., which is sufficient to vaporize the material in cartridge 32.
  • Cartridge 32 in second section 30 may be sealed at both ends. The end 33 facing section 20 has a seal which is pierced when the two sections are joined at coupling 29 while the end adjacent mouthpiece opening 38 has a peel-away seal. O-rings 34 and 36 seal the cartridge 32 within section 30, such that the heated stream of air 27 flows through the cartridge and then out mouthpiece opening 38 carrying the active ingredients from the cartridge to the user.
  • The cartridges 32 are packed with synthetic cotton fiber or other wicking material including a mixture of propylene glycol and/or glycerin, nicotine, water, and, if desired, a flavoring agent such as menthol or the like, in an azeotropic mixture. Other volatile mixtures could be employed including various medicaments. The cartridge 32 provides usage of from about 150 to about 200 puffs in one embodiment. The heated air 27 flowing from heater 26 effects the vaporization of the nicotine and/or other components in cartridge 32, which then flows through mouthpiece opening 38 so formed.
  • The casing for the second or cartridge section 30 typically will be made of a high density polymer, such as polyethylene or polyacetate, to withstand the temperatures involved and provide the user with a comfortable holding surface for the device during use. The overall shape and size of the electronic cigarette 15 is about that of a conventional cigarette and holder.
  • FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment of an electronic cigarette 40 of the present invention (hereinafter sometimes referred to as an e-cigarette), which includes a first section 10 which may be similar in construction to the prior art electronic cigarette shown in FIG. 1. Electronic cigarette 40, however, includes a second section 12 with a propylene glycol and/or glycerin container 42 associated with an atomizer 44 to provide heated propylene glycol and/or glycerin to the nicotine-containing replaceable cartridge 48 in mouthpiece 41. Mouthpiece 41 is removable from the first section 10, and, optionally, the atomizer 44 and propylene glycol and/or glycerin container 42 can be in an intermediary section 13 between sections 10 and 12, if desired. Alternately, sections 10 and 13 can be integrated into a single section. The replaceable cartridge 48 includes a porous polyethylene reservoir 46 containing liquid nicotine and/or a mixture of nicotine flavoring agent, such as methanol or the like. Reservoir 46 is mounted in the cylindrical cartridge 48 and may include a non-wicking filter 45 upstream of the nicotine-containing reservoir 46. The polyethylene reservoir 46 can be charged with a mixture of nicotine, menthol, and ethanol. The weight ratio of nicotine to menthol to ethanol is preferably about 10:1:120. A weight ratio of about 10:1:160 functions as well. A given amount of ethanol is placed in a mixing vessel (not shown) and the menthol is added and stirred until it is completely dissolved. Nicotine is then added through the solution and agitated manually for about three minutes. A tight fitting lid is then placed on the mixing vessel. The temperature of cooling water in a condenser (not shown) is then adjusted to about 14° C. and circulated at a volume of about 10 liters/minute. A jacketed vacuum drier (not shown), with an inner volume of 260 liters, has water circulated through the jacket at a temperature of about 20° C. at a volume of about 5 liters/minute. The reservoirs are placed into the vacuum drier and the vessel is evacuated to less than −27 inches of mercury.
  • The nicotine/ethanol solution is sucked by the aid of the reduced pressure into the vacuum drier. The vacuum valve is then shut. The vacuum should be less than 20 inches of mercury. The vacuum drier is then rotated at a speed of about 4 revolutions per minute for 10 minutes. The vacuum pump is then started and vacuum valve opened and the temperature on the inlet water to the vacuum drier is raised to about 40° C. The vacuum drier and pump should operate until a temperature differential of 5-6° C. is reached between the inner temperature of the vacuum drier and the inlet water to the same drier.
  • When the temperature differential mentioned above is reached, the vacuum drier and pumps are stopped. The vacuum drier is then filled with nitrogen and the polyethylene reservoirs 46 are unloaded into a container which is evacuated to a pressure of minus 28 inches of mercury and then refilled with nitrogen. This procedure is then repeated to make certain all of the oxygen has been removed from the system. The nitrogen-loaded polyethylene reservoirs are then kept in a bulk container filled with nitrogen to protect the nicotine against oxygen. The reservoirs are then inserted into suitable cartridges 48 in a nitrogen atmosphere and foil sealed at both ends. When a cartridge 48 with foil is used, the consumer removes the foil seals and inserts it into mouthpiece 41. Alternately, a new mouthpiece may include a cartridge 48 with a foil seal that is pierced when assembled to section 13, and the consumer peals away a foil seal at the opposite end. The coupling between cartridge 48 and section 10 may be designed to be child resistant.
  • FIG. 4A illustrates another embodiment of the electronic cigarette 50 which includes two sections 10 and 12 sealably coupled at coupling 29, which as with each embodiment, may be child resistant. Section 10 includes a lithium battery, an electronic flow sensor and air inlets, as in the previous embodiments described in connection with FIGS. 1 and 3. The second section 12 includes a replaceable cartridge 52 in the mouthpiece 41.
  • FIG. 4B illustrates another embodiment of cartridge 52 which includes a foil seal 51, an atomizer 53, and a non-wicking barrier filter 54, which prevents liquid from flowing through the cylindrical opening 55 of the cartridge. Cartridge 52 includes a reservoir 56 of the same construction as reservoir 46 in the FIG. 3 embodiment, which includes nicotine and/or a flavoring agent. Cartridge 52 also includes a propylene glycol and/or glycerin containing chamber 58 between foil seal 51 and filter 54. The propylene glycol and/or glycerin is atomized by the atomizer 53 to provide a smoke-like vapor within opening 55 when the user draws on opening 38 of mouthpiece 41. The atomizer 53 is coupled to the lithium battery through conductors (not shown) to provide electrical power for the atomizer, which can be of conventional design to heat or otherwise vaporize the propylene glycol and/or glycerin contained in chamber 58. As in the embodiment of FIG. 3, the cartridge 52 can be integrated with a replaceable mouthpiece 41 or a separate cartridge insertable into a reusable mouthpiece.
  • FIG. 4C illustrates yet another embodiment of a replaceable cartridge for an electronic cigarette. In this embodiment a cartridge 47 includes a conductive media 49 including propylene glycol and/or glycerin which integrally includes a heater 57. The heater is shown pictorially in FIG. 4C, it being understood that it can take on any form which allows electrical current supplied from battery 21 (FIG. 4A) to vaporize the propylene glycol and/or glycerin in the media 49. Cartridge 47 may also include a non-wicking barrier filter 54 upstream of the reservoir 56 of active ingredient as in the previous embodiments.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 5A and 5B, an alternative embodiment of the present invention is described in which an electronic cigarette 60 is divided into three sections, including a power head 10 which includes a lithium battery, an LED, and an electrical circuit board with a flow sensor. It is coupled by a sealable coupling 29 to a second section 30 which, in turn, is coupled to a third section 35 including a replaceable cartridge 62 inserted within a mouthpiece 41 having an opening 38 acting as an exit aperture. The second section 30 is coupled to the replaceable cartridge 62 by a second sealable junction 29′. Power head 10 can be of the same design as in the previous embodiments. Section 30 includes an aerosol producing chamber 64, including a replaceable propylene glycol and/or glycerin atomizer cartridge 66 which communicates with an atomizer 63 coupled to the power head 10 in a conventional manner. The aerosol chamber 64 includes apertures providing an airflow path as indicated by arrow A, such that, when the user draws on mouthpiece 41 and the sensor activates the atomizer 63, the smoke generated by the propylene glycol and/or glycerin enters the replaceable cartridge 62.
  • Cartridge 62, as shown in FIG. 5B, includes a non-wicking filter 65 to prevent liquid from entering the cartridge 62. Cartridge 62 also includes a reservoir 67 of the same construction as reservoir 46 in the FIG. 3 embodiment, which contains nicotine and/or flavoring agents to provide the user with nicotine and smoke from the propylene glycol and/or glycerin cartridge 64 when the user draws upon mouthpiece 41. Thus, the embodiment of FIGS. 5A and 5B include two replaceable cartridges, one for propylene glycol and/or glycerin in the second section 30 and one for the nicotine-containing reservoir 67 in cartridge 62 in the mouthpiece 41 of third section 35. As in previous embodiments, the mouthpiece may be a replaceable element which includes a cartridge 62 or a reusable mouthpiece in which cartridges 62 are inserted. Also, as in previous embodiments, cartridge 62 is suitable sealed with a foil either removable by the operator or which is pierced upon coupling mouthpiece 41 to intermediate section 30 at junction 29′.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates yet another embodiment of an electronic cigarette 70, which includes two sections with the power head 10 integrally including a refillable propylene glycol and/or glycerin container 71 associated with an atomizer 72 coupled to the lithium battery in a conventional manner. A mouthpiece 41 includes a replaceable cartridge 74, which is generally cylindrical and is positioned within the cylindrical mouthpiece to allow vaporized propylene glycol and/or glycerin from the refillable container 71 to flow concentrically around the outer periphery of the smaller diameter cylindrical cartridge 74, as shown by arrow B in FIG. 6. The replaceable cartridge 74 thus has an outer diameter slightly smaller than the inner diameter of mouthpiece 41 and is positioned within the mouthpiece by suitable air permeable web-like mounting disks 75 and 76 to allow the passage of vaporized propylene glycol and/or glycerin around the cartridge. Cartridge 74 includes an inlet end 77 with apertures 78 allowing a parallel flow path of vaporized propylene glycol and/or glycerin, shown by arrow C, through cartridge 74 to provide nicotine through outlet end 79 of cartridge 74. Thus, both an input end and an output end of cartridge 74 includes apertures and a flow path indicated by arrows B and C to provide combined smoke and vaporized nicotine to the opening 38 of mouthpiece 41 when the user draws on the electronic cigarette 70.
  • FIG. 6A shows an alternative embodiment of an electronic cigarette identified as 70′ and includes a lithium ion battery 21 as a power source, an electronic control circuit 24 housed within an outer cylindrical housing 14 containing the components of the electronic cigarette 70′. Housing 14 includes air inlets 28 admitting air to the e-cigarette, such that, when the user draws on the mouthpiece opening 38, air is drawn in through inlets 28 and flows through a manually replaceable cartridge 74′ in a direction indicated by arrow A in FIG. 6A. Cartridge 74′ can be of the type disclosed above in connection with FIG. 5B or any of the cartridges disclosed in FIGS. 8A-8H, although they will not contain a polyethylene glycol material.
  • Downstream of cartridge 74′ is a sensor 25 which can be a pressure or flow sensor, which activates the atomizer and LED at the end of the cigarette 70′ when a user draws on the cigarette. The atomizer 72′ is coupled to the battery 21 through the electrical circuit 24 in a conventional manner and, when a user draws on mouthpiece 41, power is applied to the atomizer to vaporize a polypropylene/glycerin material contained in the atomizer, producing a smoke-like vapor which is entrained with the nicotine/flavorant or other material contained in the porous plug 75′ of the cartridge 74′. The cartridge can generally be fabricated in a manner as set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 5,501,236, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • The outer cylindrical housing 14 includes a mechanical coupling at the left end of cartridge 74′ at 29, which can be a bayonet-type coupling, a threaded coupling, or other conventional mechanical couplings which allow access to the cartridge 74′. Coupling 29 could likewise be located at the right end of the cartridge 74′, as also shown in FIG. 6A, to gain access so the cartridge 74′ can be easily manually replaced. Naturally, a coupling can be provided at both ends, if desired, and the entire center section containing the section 74′ replaced.
  • As air is drawn through inlets 28 by a user drawing on mouthpiece 41, it flows through the permeable cartridge 74′ entraining nicotine or other material contained within the saturated porous plug 75′ and subsequently flows around the atomizer 72′, as shown by arrows B, through mouthpiece opening 38. At the same time, the atomizer 72′ may receive some of the flow of stream A (flowing through the atomizer as shown by arrow C) and is electrically activated to provide smoke-like vapor in a parallel path to the entrained active ingredients B to provide the feel and appearance of smoking a cigarette. Alternatively, separate air inlets can be provided in housing 14 to supply air to the sensor 25 and atomizer 72′. A filter 73 may be included in the mouthpiece if desired or deemed necessary.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 7A and 7B, there is shown an alternative embodiment of an electronic cigarette 80, which includes a power head 10 having a lithium battery, electrical circuitry, a flow sensor, and an aerosol chamber including an atomizer 81 suitably coupled by the electrical circuit to the lithium battery. Power head 10 is coupled to mouthpiece 41, which includes a replaceable cartridge 82 having piercable input end 83 which, when mouthpiece 41 is coupled to power head 10 at sealable junction 29, is pierced by the piercing member 84 of atomizer 81 to allow the flow of air from air inlets 28 in power head 10 through cartridge 82. Cartridge 82 includes a first chamber 85 containing propylene glycol and/or glycerin in a suitable porous media, which allows the atomizer to atomize propylene glycol and/or glycerin into a vapor. A non-wicking filter 86 separates the first chamber from the nicotine-containing reservoir 87 in the cylindrical cartridge 82. Cartridge 82, like the remaining cartridges, is made of a gas impermeable sleeve 88 which allows the flow of vaporized propylene glycol and/or glycerin, as indicated by arrow E in FIG. 7B, to flow through reservoir 87 and out opening 38 of the mouthpiece 41 to provide nicotine and/or other flavoring agents or medication from reservoir 87 to be consumed by the user with the sensation of smoking provided by the vaporized propylene glycol and/or glycerin.
  • Referring now to FIG. 8A, there is shown an electronic cigarette 90 of another embodiment of the present invention. Electronic cigarette 90 is similar to the electronic cigarette 15 shown in FIG. 2, and the same elements are identified with the same reference numerals. Electronic cigarette 90 includes a first section 20 and a second section 30 with a mouthpiece 41. The first section 20 houses a rechargeable lithium ion battery 21 and, at its outer end, an LED 23 and lens to simulate a lighted cigarette. A microprocessor 24 is coupled to battery 21 and receives control signals from a flow sensor 25 when an individual inhales through mouthpiece opening 38 at the end of the second section 30. The microprocessor couples battery 21 to a heater 26 when flow sensor 25 detects the flow of incoming air through air intake 28. This activates heater 26 to heat air, illustrated schematically by air 27. The heater is, in one embodiment, a resistance wire heater made of nichrome wire formed in a mesh to provide instant heat once power is applied. The mesh design allows a sufficient flow of heated air to vaporize nicotine in cartridge 92. Microprocessor 24 is also coupled by conductors 22 to LED 23 to illuminate LED 23 when a user inhales, thereby providing the illusion of a lighted cigarette.
  • A sealed bayonet coupling 29 extends between sections 20 and 30, such that the replaceable second section can be easily periodically replaced. The first section 20 includes a suitable recharging connector (not shown), such that the battery 21 can be recharged on a plug-in stand coupled to an AC supply, such that it can be reused multiple times. Section 20 is generally cylindrical and can be made of a durable material, such as stainless steel, aluminum, or the like. Heater 26 heats the air from input ports 18 to from about 140° C. to about 200° C.
  • The second section 30 includes a cartridge 92 and is sealed at both ends. The end 93 facing section 20 has a seal which is pierced when the two sections are joined at coupling 29 while the end adjacent mouthpiece opening 38 has a peel-away seal. The heated stream of air 27 flows through the cartridge 92 and then out mouthpiece opening 38 carrying the active ingredients from the nicotine-filled reservoir 97 to the user.
  • The reservoir 97, like the previously described reservoirs, is packed with synthetic cotton fiber or other wicking material. In this embodiment, the wicking material is saturated with a mixture of propylene glycol and/or glycerin, nicotine, water, and, if desired, a flavoring agent such as menthol or the like, in an azeotropic mixture. Other volatile mixtures could be employed including various medicaments. The cartridge 92 provides usage of from about 150 to about 200 puffs in one embodiment. The heated air 27 flowing from heater 26 effects the vaporization of the nicotine in reservoir 97, which then flows through mouthpiece opening 38 so formed.
  • The casing 94 for cartridge 92, as with the other cartridges described above, typically will be made of a high density polymer, such as polyethylene or polyacetate, to withstand the temperatures involved. The overall shape and size of the electronic cigarette 90 is about that of a conventional cigarette and holder. Instead of cartridge 92 shown in FIG. 8A, a variety of other cartridge designs can be employed in the design of FIG. 8A which are now described in connection with FIGS. 8B-8H.
  • In FIG. 8B, a cartridge 102 is provided with a gas impermeable cylindrical outer wall 106 with an input end 101 and an output end 108, which faces the opening 38 in mouthpiece 41 of FIG. 8A. Ends 101 and 108 have suitable openings to allow the flow of heated air through the cartridge. Cartridge 102 includes two sections in a reservoir 107. First section 107A is a fibrous wicking material saturated with nicotine, while the second section 107B of reservoir 107 is saturated with propylene glycol and/or glycerin and/or a flavoring agent, such as menthol. Sections 107A and 107B can be proportioned to provide the desired ratio of propylene glycol and/or glycerin to nicotine and a flavoring agent by changing the dimensions of these sections of reservoir 107.
  • An alternative cartridge 112 is shown in FIG. 8C, which has an input end 111 and output end 118 and a gas impermeable outer cylindrical wall 116. Ends 111 and 118 have suitable openings to allow the flow of heated air through the cartridge. A cylindrical nicotine reservoir 117 is positioned near input end 111. A bore 113 extends through the nicotine reservoir into a cylindrical source 115 of volatile substance saturated with propylene glycol and/or glycerin. The air flow path shown by arrow E extends through the inlet end 111 to the outlet end 118 facing opening 38 of the electronic cigarette 90 shown in FIG. 8A. By varying the diameters of cylinder sources 115 and 117 and/or their length, the ratio of nicotine from reservoir 117 and propylene glycol and/or glycerin from source 115 can be varied for the desired delivery of nicotine and smoke provided by the heated propylene glycol and/or glycerin.
  • FIG. 8D discloses yet another cartridge 122, including a gas impermeable cylindrical sleeve 126, which can be employed in the electronic cigarette 90 of FIG. 8A. The input end 121 of cartridge 122 communicates with a nicotine reservoir 127, which is in contact with a bore 123 which is coaxially surrounded by a second reservoir 129 containing propylene glycol and/or glycerin. The input and output ends 121 and 128 of cartridge 122, once the sealing foil is removed, as in all the embodiments, have suitable openings to allow the flow of heated air through the cartridge to the opening 38 of the electronic cigarette 90.
  • FIG. 8E discloses another embodiment of a cartridge 132 with an input end 131 and an exit end or opening 138. Ends 131 and 138 have suitable openings to allow the flow of heated air through the cartridge. This design, which also includes a gas impermeable cylindrical sleeve 136, contains a center rod-shaped nicotine reservoir 137 coaxially surrounded by a cylindrical reservoir 139 containing propylene glycol and/or glycerin and a flavoring agent as desired. The diameter of the rod-shaped nicotine reservoir 137 and the surrounding cylindrical propylene glycol and/or glycerin reservoir 139 can be varied to provide the desired amount of nicotine in relation to the propylene glycol and/or glycerin.
  • FIG. 8F discloses another cartridge 142, which can be employed in the electronic cigarette 90 of FIG. 8A, with an input end 141 and an output end 148. Ends 141 and 148 have suitable openings to allow the flow of heated air through the cartridge. A gas impermeable cylindrical side wall 146 defines the shape of the cartridge 142 which internally includes a first nicotine reservoir 147 and a second nicotine reservoir 149, each of which have a prescribed concentration of nicotine in a mixture, which may include propylene glycol and/or glycerin. By varying the concentration of nicotine in reservoir 147 and reservoir 149, the amount of nicotine provided by the electronic cigarette 90 of FIG. 8A into which the cartridge 142 is positioned can be selected by the manufacturer, and ultimately the user, for different dosage forms of nicotine.
  • FIG. 8G discloses another cartridge 152 which can be employed in the electronic cigarette 90 of FIG. 8A and which includes a cylindrical gas impermeable side wall 156, an input end 151, and an exit end 158. Ends 151 and 158 have suitable openings to allow the flow of heated air through the cartridge. Within the cylindrical wall 156, there is provided a reservoir comprising a pleated filter made of suitable wicking filter paper saturated with a mixture of nicotine and/or nicotine and propylene glycol and/or glycerin. By providing the pleated construction of reservoir 157, as illustrated in FIG. 8G, a greater surface area is presented for the flow of heated air through the reservoir to more efficiently transfer the nicotine into the gas flow path through output end 158 of the electronic cigarette 90.
  • FIG. 8H discloses another cartridge 162 which can be employed in the electronic cigarette 90 of FIG. 8A. It includes an input end 161 and an output end 168 with suitable apertures allowing the flow of heated air through the cartridge to the exit end of the electronic cigarette. Cartridge 162 includes a gas-impermeable cylindrical sleeve 166 containing a polyethylene glycol and/or glycerin saturated reservoir 169 followed by a non-wicking layer 165. Downstream of reservoir 169 is a nicotine containing reservoir 167 followed in the flow stream by a flavor-containing reservoir 163. Finally, a second non-wicking layer 164 is provided near the output end 168 of the cartridge 162. Layers 164, 165 allow the passage of air through the cartridge but prevents cross-contamination of the material in the three reservoirs. This cartridge allows the ratio of the volatile substance to nicotine to flavorant to be selectively varied by varying the dimensions of the reservoirs 169, 167, and 163 or the concentration of material contained therein, giving the manufacturer and consumer significant control over the effect of the e-cigarette so formed.
  • FIG. 9 shows an electronic cigarette 200 which does not employ a vapor forming smoke but rather delivers nicotine to the user while providing simulation of smoking. The electronic cigarette 200 of FIG. 9 employs a similar power head 10 without the use of a heater or atomizer for atomizing propylene glycol and/or glycerin since no propylene glycol and/or glycerin is employed. Instead, the power head 10 provides illumination of an LED 23 when a puff is taken from mouthpiece 41 through the opening 38. The electronic cigarette 200 includes the mouthpiece section 41, which is sealably coupled to the power head 10 at sealable coupling 29 and includes a cartridge 202 having a reservoir 204 positioned within a cylindrical housing 206 made of a gas impermeable material. The inlet end 201 of cartridge 202 is adjacent coupling 29 while the exit end 208 is adjacent the opening 38 of mouthpiece 41. Ends 201 and 208 include apertures allowing the flow of air through the cartridge 202. Reservoir 204 is saturated with nicotine and/or a flavor agent, such as menthol, such that, when the user draws air from air inlets and power head 10, the LED 23 is illuminated and air flowing through reservoir 204 provides nicotine, either flavored or unflavored, to the user without the addition of the smoke feature provided by the earlier embodiments.
  • In FIG. 10, an electronic cigarette 210 is disclosed and can be of a design of any of the electronic cigarettes shown in FIGS. 1-9. Cigarette 210 includes a power head 10, as in the previous embodiments, and a second section 20 which includes a nicotine-containing cartridge 220 with a reservoir 222 for nicotine, propylene glycol and/or glycerin, and/or a mixture of both, together with a flavoring agent. The cylindrical cartridge includes a side wall 226 which fits within the cylindrical section 20 of the electronic cigarette. Cartridge 220 is pressed against a compression spring (not shown) which urges cartridge 220 against a latch (not shown), which can be electrically actuated through power head 10 or mechanically actuated by a suitable mechanical link, such as a control wire (not shown), to release the latch which holds cartridge 220 within section 20. Upon pushing the LED 23 end of the cigarette 210, the latch releases cartridge 220, which is ejected from the open end 39 of the electronic cigarette 210 for easy replacement of the cartridge 220. This design allows the user to remove the nicotine-containing cartridge 220 without the need for unscrewing multiple sections of the electronic cigarette 210. Other than the redesign of the mouthpiece to allow the cartridge 220 to be ejected, the electronic cigarette 210 can be substantially identical to the electronic cigarettes described in the previous embodiments. The cartridge 220 may have a reduced diameter outlet end extended to form a mouthpiece. The spring constant of the spring is such that the cartridge 220 will not be forcibly ejected but released against the latch sufficiently to be easily removed from end 39 of the electronic cigarette.
  • In FIG. 11, an electronic cigarette 300 is disclosed incorporating a rechargeable lithium battery 302 which is coupled to an electrical control circuit 324 by conventional wiring. The cigarette 300 includes an outer casing 301 typically made in two sections, such that the lithium battery can be recharged. Alternatively, the generally cylindrical housing 301 may include contacts, such that the cigarette can be placed in a recharger. Cigarette 300 includes (at the end distal from the mouthpiece 310) an LED 306, which is illuminated when the user puffs on the cigarette to provide the illusion of smoking. A flow or pressure sensor 308 is coupled to the control circuit 324, which, when a user draws on the cigarette, activates the control circuit to provide power from the battery to an infrared LED emitter 320. Emitter 320 is axially positioned in spaced relationship to a target assembly 330, which includes a cartridge containing a volatile liquid, such as propylene glycol or glycerin together with nicotine and/or a flavorant such as menthol or the like. The infrared source 320 may be an infrared light-emitting diode such as commercially available from Intech Inc. Model No. INTX22-1000 or a Model LED 29-PR, which includes an infrared emitter and reflector and/or lens to focus infrared energy from source 320 onto the target 330. The IR LED emitter preferred can be engineered to emit radiation within a specific wavelength range. The scientific field of Infrared spectroscopy uses infrared resonance to identify chemicals because specific chemicals have a recognized signature frequency absorption patterns. The primary absorption frequency is the frequency that the target material most easily absorbs. Therefore, an IR LED can be designed to produce a specific frequency range that is ideal for transferring maximum energy to a targeted unique mass. This allows greater efficiency because heating air, wicks, and non target materials can be reduced while vaporizing the target formula intended for vaporization can be done with optimal input energy.
  • Target 330 may be a combination of a liquid containing cartridge 332 with wicking material 334 for wicking the liquid from the cartridge to an area on which the infrared radiation is focused to vaporize the liquid material including nicotine. Alternatively, it can be a pot-style reservoir in which the volatile material, including nicotine, is captured in a matrix and boils off. With either type of target 330, the vapor enters the airstream, shown by arrow F in FIG. 11, and exits through opening 311 in mouthpiece 310.
  • In systems where a heated wire is placed in direct contact with a wick or vapor formula holding material, the thermal inertia required to vaporize the vapor formula is rendered as a complex physical energy transfer relationship that heats a volume of liquid to change phase from liquid to gas. The heated zone and supply of liquid is poorly controlled. The heated zone often is tiny and can become depleted or overwhelmed with liquid affecting performance. The LED system allows for precision of beam aim and targets only liquid presented on the target surface-not a complete liquid mass. Radiant heat wires or versions thereof will produce unfavorable flavor notes over use because liquid is presented in direct contact to a heat source which can exceed 600° C. This direct contact leads to unfavorable oxidation and degradation of chemicals in the vapor formula. The IR LED has no direct contact with the formula. Also, an IR LED is not restricted to liquids since it is not required to be in direct contact. It can be used on solid matrix sheets, gels and powders. Systems with direct contact heaters often find reduced thermal efficiency because of deposits forming film that is a poor conductor of heat. This is abrogated by the lack of direct contact by the LED. The zone of radiation for heated wires is omnidirectional, whereas the LED can be precisely targeted
  • The cigarette 300 may include a filter or liquid/vapor separator 340, as necessary or desired, such that the user only receives vaporized substance from the target 330. The IR LED 320 will typically be spaced a distance “d” of about 5 mm or less from the target assembly 330. If a wicking or matrix material 334 is employed in either target embodiment, it can be of the type disclosed in “Evaporation/Boiling in Think Capillary Wicks” article in Transactions of the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Volume 128, published December 2006, pages 1312 through 1319, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • Thus, with the cigarette 300 of the present invention, direct heating of the volatile liquid and/or through heating of the wick utilizing infrared radiation is achieved, reducing the electrical drain on the rechargeable battery 302 and providing substantially instant heat to the volatile target 330 when the user puffs on the electronic cigarette 300. This greatly reduces the thermal lag resistance with wire electrical-type heaters providing the user with instantaneous vaporized substance upon drawing on the cigarette.
  • It will become apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications to the preferred embodiment of the invention as described herein can be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

Claims (27)

1-39. (canceled)
40. An electronic cigarette comprising:
a generally cylindrical cigarette shaped three sectioned body having a reusable first section including a battery and an air inlet and an electrical control circuit;
a second disposable section including a cartridge with an atomizer and a volatile substance, said second section sealably coupled to said first section; and
a third section sealably and removably coupled to said second section, wherein said third section includes a non-wicking filter and a reservoir of an active ingredient such that as air passes through said second section and vaporizes said volatile substance which flows through said reservoir and is exhausted through a mouthpiece at an end of said third section.
41. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 40 wherein said first section includes a flow sensor responsive to detected air flow for applying operating power to said atomizer when a user draws air into said mouthpiece.
42. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 41 wherein said volatile substance includes propylene glycol and/or glycerin.
43. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 42 wherein said active ingredient includes nicotine.
44. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 43 wherein a flavoring agent is added to said active ingredient.
45.-55. (canceled)
56. An electronic cigarette comprising:
a generally cylindrical cigarette shaped two sectioned body having a reusable first section including a battery and an air inlet and a second disposable section including a cartridge with a reservoir including an active ingredient, said second section including a mouthpiece for drawing vaporized contents from said cartridge;
an atomizer and a source of a volatile substance in said first section which is selectively coupled to said battery and coupled to said source of volatile substance to be vaporized and entrained in air drawn into said first section through said inlet; and
wherein said second section is sealably and removably coupled to said first section, wherein said cartridge is positioned in said second section downstream of said atomizer such that said vaporized volatile substance passes through said cartridge and vaporizes said active ingredient which is exhausted through said mouthpiece.
57. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 56 and further including a flow sensor and an electrical control circuit coupled to said battery and responsive to detected air flow for applying operating power to said atomizer when a user draws air into said mouthpiece.
58. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 57 wherein said volatile substance includes propylene glycol and/or glycerin.
59. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 58 wherein said active ingredient includes nicotine.
60. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 59 wherein said active ingredient includes a flavoring agent.
61. The electronic cigarette as defined in claim 60 wherein said cartridge includes a non-wicking filter positioned upstream of said reservoir.
62.-76. (canceled)
77. A replaceable cartridge for an electronic cigarette, said cartridge comprising:
a generally cylindrical housing;
an atomizer near one end of said housing;
a source of volatile substance positioned in said housing in communication with said atomizer; and
a reservoir for an active ingredient, said reservoir positioned in said housing in one of an upstream and downstream position of said source of volatile substance.
78. The cartridge as defined in claim 77 wherein said active ingredient includes nicotine.
79. The cartridge as defined in claim 78 wherein said reservoir further includes a flavoring agent.
80. The cartridge as defined in claim 79 wherein said volatile substance includes propylene glycol and/or glycerin.
81. The cartridge as defined in claim 80 wherein opposite ends of said housing are sealed with a gas impermeable sealing material.
82. The cartridge as defined in claim 77 and further including a non-wicking filter positioned between said source of volatile substance and said reservoir.
83. A replaceable cartridge for an electronic cigarette, said cartridge comprising:
a generally cylindrical housing;
a source of volatile substance positioned in said housing and extending longitudinally along said housing and occupying only a first section of said cylindrical housing; and
a reservoir for an active ingredient, said reservoir positioned in said housing adjacent said source of volatile substance and occupying a second section of said cylindrical housing.
84. The cartridge as defined in claim 83 wherein the dimensions of said first and second sections can be varied to vary the amount of volatile substance and active ingredient used in the electronic cigarette.
85. The cartridge as defined in claim 84 wherein said active ingredient includes nicotine.
86. The cartridge as defined in claim 85 wherein said reservoir further includes a flavoring agent.
87. The cartridge as defined in claim 86 wherein said volatile substance includes propylene glycol and/or glycerin.
88. The cartridge as defined in claim 87 wherein opposite ends of said housing are sealed with a gas impermeable sealing material.
89.-120. (canceled)
US14/759,025 2013-01-08 2014-01-08 Electronic cigarette Abandoned US20150351456A1 (en)

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