WO2013083635A1 - An aerosol generating device having airflow inlets - Google Patents

An aerosol generating device having airflow inlets Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013083635A1
WO2013083635A1 PCT/EP2012/074514 EP2012074514W WO2013083635A1 WO 2013083635 A1 WO2013083635 A1 WO 2013083635A1 EP 2012074514 W EP2012074514 W EP 2012074514W WO 2013083635 A1 WO2013083635 A1 WO 2013083635A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
air
aerosol
air inlet
heater
generating device
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/EP2012/074514
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Flavien Dubief
Arkadiusz KUCZAJ
Original Assignee
Philip Morris Products S.A.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to EP11192453 priority Critical
Priority to EP11192453.6 priority
Application filed by Philip Morris Products S.A. filed Critical Philip Morris Products S.A.
Publication of WO2013083635A1 publication Critical patent/WO2013083635A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61MDEVICES FOR INTRODUCING MEDIA INTO, OR ONTO, THE BODY; DEVICES FOR TRANSDUCING BODY MEDIA OR FOR TAKING MEDIA FROM THE BODY; DEVICES FOR PRODUCING OR ENDING SLEEP OR STUPOR
    • A61M15/00Inhalators
    • A61M15/06Inhaling appliances shaped like cigars, cigarettes or pipes
    • 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
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61MDEVICES FOR INTRODUCING MEDIA INTO, OR ONTO, THE BODY; DEVICES FOR TRANSDUCING BODY MEDIA OR FOR TAKING MEDIA FROM THE BODY; DEVICES FOR PRODUCING OR ENDING SLEEP OR STUPOR
    • A61M11/00Sprayers or atomisers specially adapted for therapeutic purposes
    • A61M11/04Sprayers or atomisers specially adapted for therapeutic purposes operated by the vapour pressure of the liquid to be sprayed or atomised
    • A61M11/041Sprayers or atomisers specially adapted for therapeutic purposes operated by the vapour pressure of the liquid to be sprayed or atomised using heaters
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61MDEVICES FOR INTRODUCING MEDIA INTO, OR ONTO, THE BODY; DEVICES FOR TRANSDUCING BODY MEDIA OR FOR TAKING MEDIA FROM THE BODY; DEVICES FOR PRODUCING OR ENDING SLEEP OR STUPOR
    • A61M11/00Sprayers or atomisers specially adapted for therapeutic purposes
    • A61M11/04Sprayers or atomisers specially adapted for therapeutic purposes operated by the vapour pressure of the liquid to be sprayed or atomised
    • A61M11/041Sprayers or atomisers specially adapted for therapeutic purposes operated by the vapour pressure of the liquid to be sprayed or atomised using heaters
    • A61M11/042Sprayers or atomisers specially adapted for therapeutic purposes operated by the vapour pressure of the liquid to be sprayed or atomised using heaters electrical
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61MDEVICES FOR INTRODUCING MEDIA INTO, OR ONTO, THE BODY; DEVICES FOR TRANSDUCING BODY MEDIA OR FOR TAKING MEDIA FROM THE BODY; DEVICES FOR PRODUCING OR ENDING SLEEP OR STUPOR
    • A61M16/00Devices for influencing the respiratory system of patients by gas treatment, e.g. mouth-to-mouth respiration; Tracheal tubes
    • A61M16/0003Accessories therefor, e.g. sensors, vibrators, negative pressure
    • A61M2016/0015Accessories therefor, e.g. sensors, vibrators, negative pressure inhalation detectors
    • A61M2016/0018Accessories therefor, e.g. sensors, vibrators, negative pressure inhalation detectors electrical
    • A61M2016/0024Accessories therefor, e.g. sensors, vibrators, negative pressure inhalation detectors electrical with an on-off output signal, e.g. from a switch

Abstract

There is provided an aerosol generating device comprising: a housing having a first air inlet (123) and an air outlet (125), the housing defining an air flow channel between the first air inlet (123) and the air outlet (125), and a heater (119) configured to heat an aerosol-forming substrate (117) positioned within or adjacent to the air flow channel, wherein the housing further comprises a second air inlet (124), the second air inlet (124) positioned between the heater (119) and the air outlet (125), the second air inlet (124) configured to allow air into the air flow channel, and wherein the second air inlet (124) is larger than the first air inlet (123).

Description

AN AEROSOL GENERATING DEVICE HAVING AIRFLOW INLETS

The present invention relates to an aerosol generating device for heating an aerosol- forming substrate. Particularly, but not exclusively, the present invention relates to an electrically operated aerosol generating device for heating a liquid aerosol-forming substrate.

WO-A-2009/132793 discloses an electrically heated smoking system. A liquid is stored in a liquid storage portion, and a capillary wick has a first end which extends into the liquid storage portion for contact with the liquid therein, and a second end which extends out of the liquid storage portion. A heating element heats the second end of the capillary wick. The heating element is in the form of a spirally wound electric heating element in electrical connection with a power supply, and surrounding the second end of the capillary wick. In use, the heating element may be activated by the user to switch on the power supply. Suction on a mouthpiece by the user causes air to be drawn into the electrically heated smoking device over the capillary wick and heating element and subsequently into the mouth of the user.

It is an objective of the present invention to improve the generation of aerosol in such an electrically heated aerosol generating system.

The generation of aerosol in an aerosol generating device requires two processes. First, the aerosol forming substrate must be vaporized. Then, the resulting vapour must condense to form the droplets of the aerosol. Typically, in aerosol generating devices such as electric smoking devices, only a single air inlet is provided upstream of the heater to allow air into the device, flow past a heater (or other substrate vaporizing element) to pick up the vapour and then out of an air outlet of the device, such as a mouthpiece. In this context "upstream" and "downstream" refer to the air flow through the device from air inlet to air outlet. Condensation of the vaporized substrate occurs around and downstream of the heater (that is, between the heater and the air outlet in the direction of airflow), within the device. There is only a limited ability to control the condensation process in such devices in order to optimise the aerosol quantity and aerosol properties.

According to one aspect of the invention, there is provided an aerosol generating device comprising: a housing having a first air inlet and an air outlet, the housing defining an air flow channel between the first air inlet and the air outlet; and a heater configured to heat an aerosol- forming substrate positioned within or adjacent to the air flow channel; wherein the housing further comprises a second air inlet, the second air inlet positioned between the heater and the air outlet, the second air inlet configured to allow ambient air into the air flow channel, and wherein the second air inlet is larger than the first air inlet.

The provision of a second air inlet between the heater and the air outlet, in accordance with the present invention, allows a vaporized substrate to be rapidly cooled before it leaves the device through the air outlet. This cooling through the provision of the second air inlet allows the outlet temperature to be controlled. The cooling process through the provision of the second air inlet also allows the optimal conversion of vapour into aerosol.

The second air inlet is larger than the first air inlet (that is, allows in more air). A larger inlet in this context means that for a given suction on the air outlet a greater flow of air is drawn through that inlet. So, for a given suction on the air outlet a greater flow of air is drawn through the second air inlet than the first air inlet. Preferably, the second air inlet allows an air flow at least five times larger than the air flow provided by the first air inlet. That is, for a given suction on the air outlet at least five times more air is drawn through the second air inlet than the first air inlet. This could be accomplished by forming the second air inlet from a greater number of apertures. This could also be accomplished by making apertures that make up the second air inlet larger than apertures that make up the first air inlet. This could also be acheived by a combination of more apertures that make up the second air inlet and larger apertures that make up the second air inlet. More preferably, the second air inlet is more than eight times larger than the first air inlet and may be fourteen times larger than the first air inlet.

The airflow past the heater or substrate need only be sufficient to move the vaporized substrate towards the second air inlet. The first air inlet and the air flow channel are preferably configured to provide for substantially laminar air flow between the first air inlet and the second air inlet when suction is applied to the air inlet. This provides efficient transport of vaporized substrate away from the heater. The second air inlet provides cooling air into the device to cool the vapour and control the condensation of the vapour. The second air inlet and the air flow channel are preferably configured to provide for turbulent air flow between the second air inlet and the air output in order to efficiently cool the air and condense the vapour.

The relative dimensions of the first and second air inlets can be selected to optimise the properties of the aerosol delivered to the user, or the total mass flow rate through the outlet. The mass flow rate is the mass flow rate through the first inlet and the mass flow rate through the second inlet. The total mass flow rate directly depends on the relative number and sizes of the apertures forming the first and second air inlets and can be altered to optimise the delivered aerosol for a given demanded temperature at the outlet. The number and sizes of the apertures forming the first and second air inlets can be found to maximise aerosol mass flow rate. The number and sizes of the apertures forming the first and second air inlets depends on the substrate composition. Different geometries will also exhibit different behaviours. The device may be configured to automatically alter the size of the first air inlet or second air inlet based on the composition of the aerosol-forming substrate, the temperature of the heater or a detected flow rate through a portion of the device

The device may comprise a main body part and a cartridge. The cartridge may contain the aerosol forming substrate. The consumable cartridge may be replaced when the supply of aerosol-forming substrate is exhausted. A portion of the housing of the device is preferably formed by the consumable cartridge and includes the second air inlet or the first air inlet, or both the first and second air inlets. The heater may also be part of the cartridge. Preferably the capillary wick is also part of the cartridge. The consumable cartridge may also include a mouthpiece. An aerosol generating device, wherein the device comprises a cartridge, the cartridge comprising the aerosol forming substrate and wherein a portion of the housing is formed by the cartridge and includes the second air inlet or the first air inlet, or both the first and second air inlets.

The device housing may include a mouthpiece portion surrounding the air outlet, the device being configured such that suction by a user on the mouthpiece portion draws air through the first and second air inlets into the air flow channel. The device is preferably passive with respect to air flow, and so includes no fan or blower. However, it is possible to include a fan or other active airflow management component in the device if desired.

Preferably, the housing of the device is elongate. The housing may comprise any suitable material or combination of materials. Examples of suitable materials include metals, alloys, plastics or composite materials containing one or more of those materials, or thermoplastics that are suitable for food or pharmaceutical applications, for example polypropylene, polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and polyethylene. Preferably, the material is light and non-brittle.

The first air inlet may comprise a plurality of first apertures in the housing. The second air inlet may comprise a plurality of second apertures in the housing. The plurality of first and second apertures can be symmetrically disposed around the airflow channel. Preferably there are between one and five first apertures and between one and five second air apertures. More preferably there are between two and four first air inlets and between two and four second air inlets. Even more preferably, there are three first air inlets and three second air inlets. However, there may be 10 or more first and second air inlets and there may be an equal or unequal number of first air inlets and second air inlets, in any combination of numbers. .

The airflow channel may be configured in a number of ways. For example a heater may form part of a wall of the airflow channel. The airflow channel may surround the heater or may be formed only on one side of the heater. The airflow channel may not include a heater, but the wall or walls of the airflow channel could be the aerosol forming substrate. The airflow channel may have a substantially circular cross-section, or may have a substantially oval or substantially elliptical cross-section.

The vaporiser may be a heater. The heater may heat the aerosol-forming substrate means by one or more of conduction, convection and radiation. The heater may be an electric heater powered by an electric power supply. The heater may alternatively be powered by a nonelectric power supply, such as a combustible fuel: for example, the heater may comprise a thermally conductive element that is heated by combustion of a gas fuel. The heater is preferably an electric heater. The electric heater may comprise a single heating element. Alternatively, the electric heater may comprise more than one heating element for example two, or three, or four, or five, or six or more heating elements. The heating element or heating elements may be arranged appropriately so as to most effectively heat the aerosol-forming substrate.

The at least one electric heating element preferably comprises an electrically resistive material. Suitable electrically resistive materials include but are not limited to: semiconductors such as doped ceramics, electrically "conductive" ceramics (such as, for example, molybdenum disilicide), carbon, graphite, metals, metal alloys and composite materials made of a ceramic material and a metallic material. Such composite materials may comprise doped or undoped ceramics. Examples of suitable doped ceramics include doped silicon carbides. Examples of suitable metals include titanium, zirconium, tantalum and metals from the platinum group. Examples of suitable metal alloys include stainless steel, Constantan, nickel-, cobalt-, chromium-, aluminium- titanium- zirconium-, hafnium-, niobium-, molybdenum-, tantalum-, tungsten-, tin-, gallium-, manganese- and iron-containing alloys, and super-alloys based on nickel, iron, cobalt, stainless steel, Timetal®, iron-aluminium based alloys and iron-manganese- aluminium based alloys. Timetal® is a registered trade mark of Titanium Metals Corporation, 1999 Broadway Suite 4300, Denver Colorado. In composite materials, the electrically resistive material may optionally be embedded in, encapsulated or coated with an insulating material or vice-versa, depending on the kinetics of energy transfer and the external physicochemical properties required. The heating element may comprise a metallic etched foil insulated between two layers of an inert material. In that case, the inert material may comprise Kapton®, all- polyimide or mica foil. Kapton® is a registered trade mark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, 1007 Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19898, United States of America.

Alternatively, the at least one electric heating element may comprise an infra-red heating element, a photonic source or an inductive heating element.

The at least one electric heating element may take any suitable form. For example, the at least one electric heating element may take the form of a heating blade. Alternatively, the at least one electric heating element may take the form of a casing or substrate having different electro-conductive portions, or an electrically resistive metallic tube. The liquid storage portion may incorporate a disposable heating element. Alternatively, if the aerosol-forming substrate is liquid, one or more heating needles or rods that run through the liquid aerosol-forming substrate may also be suitable. Alternatively, the at least one electric heating element may be a disk (end) heater or a combination of a disk heater with heating needles or rods. Alternatively, the at least one electric heating element may comprise a flexible sheet of material. Other alternatives include a heating wire or filament, for example a nickel-chromium (Ni-Cr), platinum, tungsten or alloy wire, or a heating plate. Optionally, the heating element may be deposited in or on a rigid carrier material.

The at least one electric heating element may comprise a heat sink, or heat reservoir comprising a material capable of absorbing and storing heat and subsequently releasing the heat over time to heat the aerosol-forming substrate. The heat sink may be formed of any suitable material, such as a suitable metal or ceramic material. Preferably, the material has a high heat capacity (sensible heat storage material), or is a material capable of absorbing and subsequently releasing heat via a reversible process, such as a high temperature phase change. Suitable sensible heat storage materials include, for example, silica gel, alumina, carbon, glass mat, glass fibre, minerals, a metal or alloy such as aluminium, silver or lead, and a cellulose material. Other suitable materials which release heat via a reversible phase change include paraffin, sodium acetate, naphthalene, wax, polyethylene oxide, a metal, metal salt, a mixture of eutectic salts or an alloy.

The heat sink may be arranged such that it is directly in contact with the aerosol-forming substrate and can transfer the stored heat directly to the substrate. Alternatively, the heat stored in the heat sink or heat reservoir may be transferred to the aerosol-forming substrate by means of a heat conductor, such as a metallic tube.

The at least one heating element may heat the aerosol-forming substrate by means of conduction. The heating element may be at least partially in contact with the substrate. Alternatively, the heat from the heating element may be conducted to the substrate by means of a heat conductor.

In addition, or alternatively, the at least one heating element may transfer heat to the incoming ambient air that is drawn through the aerosol generating device during use, which in turn heats the aerosol-forming substrate by convection. The ambient air may be heated before passing through the aerosol-forming substrate. Alternatively, the ambient air may be first drawn through the liquid substrate and then heated.

The aerosol-forming substrate may be a solid aerosol-forming substrate. The aerosol- forming substrate preferably comprises a tobacco material comprising volatile tobacco flavour compounds which are released from the substrate upon heating. The aerosol-forming substrate may comprise a non-tobacco material. The aerosol-forming substrate may comprise tobacco material and non-tobacco containing material. Preferably, the aerosol-forming substrate further comprises an aerosol former that facilitates the formation of a dense and stable aerosol. Examples of suitable aerosol formers are glycerine and propylene glycol.

However, in a preferred embodiment, the aerosol-forming substrate is a liquid aerosol- forming substrate. The liquid aerosol-forming substrate preferably has physical properties, for example boiling point and vapour pressure, suitable for use in the aerosol generating device. If the boiling point is too high, it may not be possible to vaporize the liquid but, if the boiling point is too low, the liquid may vaporize too readily. The liquid preferably comprises a tobacco material comprising volatile tobacco flavour compounds which are released from the liquid upon heating. Alternatively, or in addition, the liquid may comprise a non-tobacco material. The liquid may include aqueous solutions, non-aqueous solvents such as ethanol, plant extracts, nicotine, natural or artificial flavours or any combination of these. Preferably, the liquid further comprises an aerosol former. Examples of suitable aerosol formers are glycerine and propylene glycol.

If the aerosol-forming substrate is a liquid substrate, the aerosol generating device may further comprise a liquid storage portion for storing the liquid aerosol-forming substrate. An advantage of providing a liquid storage portion is that the liquid in the liquid storage portion is protected from ambient air (because air cannot generally enter the liquid storage portion). It can also be protected from light. By protecting the liquid from air and light, the risk of degradation of the liquid is significantly reduced. Moreover, a high level of hygiene can be maintained. The liquid storage portion may not be refillable. Thus, when the liquid in the liquid storage portion has been used up, the aerosol generating device is replaced. Alternatively, the liquid storage portion may be refillable. In that case, the aerosol generating device may be replaced after a certain number of refills of the liquid storage portion. Preferably, the liquid storage portion is arranged to hold liquid for a pre-determined number of puffs. If the aerosol generating device comprises a first portion having a mouthpiece and a second portion opposite the first portion, the liquid storage portion may be contained in the first portion or in the second portion.

The aerosol-forming substrate may alternatively be any other sort of substrate, for example, a gas substrate, or any combination of the various types of substrate.

If the aerosol-forming substrate is a liquid aerosol-forming substrate, the heater of the aerosol generating device may comprise a capillary wick for conveying the liquid aerosol- forming substrate by capillary action. Preferably, the capillary wick is arranged to be in contact with liquid in the liquid storage portion. Preferably, the capillary wick extends into the liquid storage portion. In that case, in use, liquid is transferred from the liquid storage portion by capillary action in the capillary wick. In one embodiment, liquid in one end of the capillary wick is vaporized to form a supersaturated vapour. The supersaturated vapour is mixed with and carried in the air flow. During the flow, the vapour condenses to form the aerosol and the aerosol is carried towards the mouth of a user. The liquid aerosol-forming substrate has physical properties, including surface tension and viscosity, which allow the liquid to be transported through the capillary wick by capillary action.

The capillary wick may have a fibrous or spongy structure. The capillary wick preferably comprises a bundle of capillaries. For example, the capillary wick may comprise a plurality of fibres or threads or other fine bore tubes. The fibres or threads may be generally aligned in the longitudinal direction of the aerosol generating device. Alternatively, the capillary wick may comprise sponge-like or foam-like material formed into a rod shape. The rod shape may extend along the longitudinal direction of the aerosol generating device. The structure of the wick forms a plurality of small bores or tubes, through which the liquid can be transported by capillary action. The capillary wick may comprise any suitable material or combination of materials. Examples of suitable materials are capillary materials, for example a sponge or foam material, ceramic- or graphite-based materials in the form of fibres or sintered powders, foamed metal or plastics material, a fibrous material, for example made of spun or extruded fibres, such as cellulose acetate, polyester, or bonded polyolefin, polyethylene, terylene or polypropylene fibres, nylon fibres or ceramic. The capillary wick may have any suitable capillarity and porosity so as to be used with different liquid physical properties. The liquid has physical properties, including but not limited to viscosity, surface tension, density, thermal conductivity, boiling point and vapour pressure, which allow the liquid to be transported through the capillary system by capillary action. The capillary wick must be suitable so that the required amount of liquid can be delivered to the heater.

Alternatively, instead of a capillary wick, the aerosol generating device may comprise any suitable capillary or porous interface between the liquid aerosol-forming substrate and the heater, for conveying the desired amount of liquid to the heater.

The liquid storage portion is preferably a container. The liquid storage portion may not be refillable. Thus, when the liquid in the liquid storage portion has been used up, the aerosol generating device is replaced. Alternatively, the liquid storage portion may be refillable. In that case, the aerosol generating device may be replaced after a certain number of refills of the liquid storage portion. Preferably, the liquid storage portion is arranged to hold liquid for a predetermined number of puffs.

In one preferred embodiment, the aerosol-forming substrate is a liquid aerosol-forming substrate, the aerosol generating device comprises a liquid storage portion for storing the liquid aerosol-forming substrate, an electric heater and a capillary wick. In that embodiment, preferably the capillary wick is arranged to be in contact with liquid in the liquid storage portion. In use, liquid is transferred from the liquid storage portion towards the electric heater by capillary action in the capillary wick. In one embodiment, the capillary wick has a first end and a second end, the first end extending into or next to the liquid storage portion for contact with liquid therein and the electric heater being arranged to heat liquid in the second end. When the heater is activated, the liquid at the second end of the capillary wick is vaporized by the heater to form the supersaturated vapour. The supersaturated vapour is mixed with and carried in the air flow. Air from the second air inlet then mixes with the vapour and the vapour condenses to form the aerosol and the aerosol is carried towards the mouth of a user.

In another aspect of the invention, there is provided a cartridge comprising:

an aerosol-forming substrate;

a heater configured to heat the aerosol-forming substrate, the heater positioned within or adjacent to an air flow channel through the cartridge; the air flow channel terminating at an outlet through which, in use, aerosol is delivered to a user;

and an air inlet in an external surface of the cartridge, the air inlet configured to allow air into the air flow channel at a position between the heater and the outlet, wherein the air inlet and the air flow channel are configured to give rise to turbulent air flow through the air flow channel when suction is applied to the outlet.

The cartridge may include a mouthpiece. The cartridge may be configured to be connected to a main body of an aerosol generating device comprising a power source for providing power to the heater. The cartridge may also include a further air inlet or set of air inlets upstream of the air inlet.

Preferably, the device further includes means for dynamically controlling air flow rate through either the first air inlet or the second air inlet by changing the size of either first or second air inlet. This may comprise means for partially blocking the first or second inlet, such as a mechanical shutter element. The partial blocking may take the form of completely blocking some of a plurality of apertures that comprise either the first or second inlet. It may be desirable to dynamically control the flow rate of air through the first air inlet or second air inlet based on, for example, the composition of the aerosol-forming substrate, the temperature of the heater or a detected flow rate through a portion of the device. It may be feasible to impact the mass air flow rate with a restrictor valve.

The aerosol generating device may be electrically operated and may further comprise an electric power supply. If the aerosol generating device comprises a consumable cartridge and a main body, the electric power supply may be contained in the cartridge or the main body. Preferably, the electric power supply is contained in the main body.

The aerosol generating device may further comprise electric circuitry. In one embodiment, the electric circuitry comprises a sensor to detect air flow indicative of a user taking a puff on the air outlet. In that case, preferably, the electric circuitry is arranged to provide an electric current pulse to the electric heater when the sensor senses a user taking a puff. Preferably, the time-period of the electric current pulse is pre-set, depending on the amount of liquid desired to be vaporized. The electric circuitry is preferably programmable for this purpose. Alternatively, the electric circuitry may comprise a manually operable switch for a user to initiate a puff. The time-period of the electric current pulse is preferably pre-set depending on the amount of liquid desired to be vaporized. The electric circuitry is preferably programmable for this purpose. If the aerosol generating device comprises a consumable cartridge and a main body, the electric circuitry may be contained in the cartridge or the main body. Preferably, the electric circuitry is contained in the main body.

Preferably, the aerosol generating device is portable. The aerosol generating device may be a smoking device. The aerosol generation device may have a size comparable to a conventional cigar or cigarette. The smoking device may have a total length between approximately 30 mm and approximately 150 mm. The smoking device may have an external diameter between approximately 5 mm and approximately 30 mm.

Preferably, the aerosol generating device is an electrically operated smoking device. In a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of delivering an aerosol from an aerosol-forming substrate comprising the steps of:

vaporizing the aerosol-forming substrate in a first chamber through which air is flowing towards a second chamber,

condensing the vaporized substrate in the second chamber, including the step of supplying ambient air to the second chamber through an ambient air inlet, to generate an aerosol; and

delivering the aerosol from the second chamber through an outlet in the second chamber. The rate of supply of ambient air may be selected to provide a maximum aerosol mass flow rate from the second chamber.

Features described in relation to one aspect of the invention may be applicable to another aspect of the invention. In particular, features described in relation to the aerosol generating device may also be applicable to the cartridge.

The invention will be further described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which:

Figure 1 shows an embodiment of an aerosol generating device according to the invention;

Figure 2 is a schematic illustration of the air flow paths in a device of the type shown in Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is a schematic illustration of the air flow paths in an alternative design in accordance with the invention; and

Figure 4 is a plot of the mass of aerosol delivered to a user versus A, a parameter relating the size of the first and second inlets.

Figure 1 is a schematic illustration of one example of an aerosol generating device according to the invention. In Figure 1 , the device is an electrically operated smoking device having a liquid storage portion. The smoking device 100 of Figure 1 comprises a first end which is the mouthpiece end 103 and a second end which is the body end 105. In the body end 105, there is provided an electric power supply in the form of battery 107 and electric circuitry in the form of hardware 109 and puff detection system 1 1 1 . In the mouthpiece end 103, there is provided a liquid storage portion in the form of cartridge 1 13 containing liquid 1 15, a capillary wick 1 17 and a heater 1 19. Note that the heater is only shown schematically in Figure 1 . In the exemplary embodiment shown in Figure 1 , one end of capillary wick 1 17 extends into liquid storage portion 1 13 and the other end of capillary wick 1 17 is surrounded by the heater 1 19. The heater is connected to the electric circuitry via connections 121 , which may pass along the outside of liquid storage portion 1 13 (not shown in Figure 1 ). The housing is formed in two parts with the portion of the housing including the mouthpiece end and the liquid storage portion 1 13 being a consumable cartridge and the body end of the housing being a reusable main body portion of the device. The position of the join between the cartridge and the main body of the device is not shown in Figure 1 and may be selected by the designer. The housing 101 includes two air inlets 123 and 124 and an air outlet 125. In use, air flow through the device is provided by a user inhaling at the air outlet to draw air through the first and second inlets. The first air inlet 123 is positioned upstream of the heater, that is with the heater positioned between the first inlet and the air outlet 125. The second air inlet is positioned downstream of the heater i.e. between the heater and the air outlet.

In use, operation is as follows. Liquid 1 15 is conveyed by capillary action from the cartridge 1 13 from the end of the wick 1 17 which extends into the cartridge to the other end of the wick which is surrounded by heater 1 19. When a user draws on the aerosol generating device at the air outlet 125, ambient air is drawn through air inlet 123. In the arrangement shown in Figure 1 , the puff detection system 1 1 1 senses the puff and activates the heater 1 19. The battery 107 supplies electrical energy to the heater 1 19 to heat the end of the wick 1 17 surrounded by the heater. The liquid in that end of the wick 1 17 is vaporized by the heater 1 19 to create a supersaturated vapour. At the same time, the liquid being vaporized is replaced by further liquid moving along the wick 1 17 by capillary action. The supersaturated vapour created is mixed with and carried in the air flow from the air inlet 123 towards the outlet 125. In the aerosol forming chamber 127, the vapour condenses to form an inhalable aerosol, which is carried towards the outlet 125 and into the mouth of the user. Ambient air is drawn into the aerosol forming chamber 127 through the second air inlet 124 when a user inhales. This ambient air mixes with the vapour to cool it and accelerate condensation. This cooling air provides aerosol with a desirable droplet size and density as well as ensuring a desirable temperature for the air aerosol entering the user's mouth.

In the embodiment shown in Figure 1 , the hardware 109 and puff detection system 1 1 1 are preferably programmable. The hardware 109 and puff detection system 1 1 1 can be used to manage the aerosol generating device operation.

Figure 1 shows one example of an aerosol generating device according to the present invention. Many other examples are possible, however. The aerosol generating device simply needs to include a heater for vaporizing the aerosol-forming substrate, at least one air outlet, and at least two air inlets, one of which is between the heater and the outlet. For example, the device need not be electrically operated. For example, the device need not be a smoking device. For example, the aerosol-forming substrate need not be a liquid aerosol-forming substrate. Moreover, even if the aerosol-forming substrate is a liquid aerosol-forming substrate, the device may not include a capillary wick. In that case, the device may include another mechanism for delivering liquid for vaporization. For example, a puff detection system need not be provided. Instead, the device could operate by manual activation, for example the user operating a switch when a puff is taken. For example, the overall shape and size of the aerosol generating device could be altered. For example, the consumable cartridge may comprise only internal elements or only the liquid storage portion 1 13 and may form no part of the housing 101 . Alternatively there may be no consumable cartridge and the device may be refillable or non-refillable.

As discussed above, according to the invention, the aerosol generating device includes at least two air inlets, one of which is positioned between the heater and the outlet in the direction of gas flow through the device. An embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to Figure 2. The embodiment is based on the example shown in Figure 1 , although is applicable to other embodiments of aerosol generating devices. Note that Figures 1 , 2 and 3 are schematic in nature. In particular, the components shown are not necessarily to scale either individually or relative to one another.

Figure 2 is an illustration of the air flow paths in a device of the type shown in Figure 1. Figure 2 illustrates a liquid storage portion 1 13 containing liquid aerosol-forming substrate 1 15. A wick 1 17 delivers the liquid to heater 1 19. Air is drawn into the housing through first apertures forming the first inlet 123 when a user inhales at outlet 125. The first air apertures 123 are configured to provide a laminar flow of air past the heater to transport vaporized substrate away from the vicinity of the heater towards the outlet and are arranged symmetrically around the housing. The first apertures and the air flow channel are shaped to encourage laminar air flow past the heaters. Ambient air is also drawn into the housing through second air apertures forming second air inlet 124 provided downstream of the heater 1 19. The ambient air is cooler that the mixture of air and vapour that has been heated by the heater and so the ambient air from the second air inlets cool the air and vapour travelling towards the outlet. Second air apertures are configured to provide an air flow that mixes with the air and vapours travelling towards the outlet and to create a turbulent flow in order to maximise the cooling effect. In Figure 2, they are shown as defining second air inlet channels transverse to the laminar flow of air past the heater.

The cooling effect of the air from the second air inlet means that the vaporized substrate condenses more rapidly than it would in the absence of the second air inlets. The design of the first air inlets and second air inlets, in particular both their absolute and relative sizes, affects the properties and amount of aerosol delivered to the user at the outlet 125. The more ambient air that is drawn through the second air inlets, the more of the vaporized aerosol is condensed and an aerosol with better physical attributes can be provided to the user. Figure 3 shows an alternative design for the air flow through the device. In Figure 3 the substrate 1 15 is provided within the housing 301 in a hollow cylindrical carrier material that surrounds the air flow channel. The heater 1 19 is provided within the airflow channel. The first air inlet 323 is positioned upstream of the heater and the second air inlets 324 positioned downstream of the heater closer to the outlet 325. Again the second air inlet provides an incoming flow of air transverse to the flow of air past the heater in order to ensure good mixing. It should be clear that many alternative geometries are possible using the same separation of an initial air flow to transport vapour and a second air flow to provide cooling.

The relative dimensions of the first and second air inlets can be selected to optimise the properties of the aerosol delivered to the user. As shown in Figures 2 and 3 the total mass flow rate through the outlet 125 is Q. The mass flow rate through the first inlet is Qi and the mass flow rate through the second inlet 124 is Q2. The relationship between the flow rates is:

Figure imgf000013_0001
The parameter A directly depends on the relative number and sizes of the apertures forming the first and second air inlets and can be altered to optimise the delivered aerosol for a given demanded temperature at the outlet. Figure 4 is a plot of the mass flow rate versus A for three different substrate materials, water, glycerine (G) and propylene glycol (PG) flowing through a device with a diameter of 8.4 mm at a velocity of 0.5m/s with a room temperature of 20 °C and an outlet temperature of 40°C. It can be clearly seen that a value of A can be found to maximise aerosol mass flow rate and that that value depends on the substrate composition. Different geometries will also exhibit different behaviours.

It can also be seen that the maximum aerosol mass flow rate is found when the second air inlets are larger than the first air inlet. In the case of glycerine, the second air inlet needs to be about 10 times larger than the first air inlet. This can be understood by considering that the airflow past the heater and/or substrate from the first inlet need only be sufficient to move the vaporized substrate towards the second air inlet. If the first air inlet and air flow channel is configured to provide for substantially laminar air flow between the first air inlet and the second air inlet, the air flow required to efficiently transport vaporized substrate away from the heater is very small. In contrast, the second air inlet provides cooling air into the device to control the condensation of the vapour and for rapid cooling requires relatively large flow rate through the second air inlet. The second air inlet and air flow channel is preferably configured to provide for turbulent air flow between the second air inlet and the air output in order to efficiently cool the air and condense the vapour.

If the device allows for cartridges containing different substrate compositions to be used, then the cartridges can be designed to include either or both of the first and second air inlets, optimised for the particular composition that they contain. It is also possible to include a mechanically movable shutter or sleeve to selectively block one or more apertures forming the first or second air inlet, so as to alter the parameter Alpha. This alteration may be achieved manually or automatically under the control of the electric circuitry. Furthermore, the geometry of the airflow channel and of the first and second air inlets may take many forms. The optimal geometry for a particular device and application may be determined empirically or theoretically.

Claims

1 . An aerosol generating device comprising:
a housing having a first air inlet and an air outlet, the housing defining an air flow channel between the first air inlet and the air outlet; and
a heater configured to heat an aerosol-forming substrate positioned within or adjacent to the air flow channel;
wherein the housing further comprises a second air inlet, the second air inlet positioned between the heater and the air outlet, the second air inlet configured to allow air into the air flow channel and wherein the second air inlet is larger than the first air inlet.
2. An aerosol generating device according to claim 1 , wherein the second air inlet is at least five times larger than the first inlet.
3. An aerosol generating element according to claim 1 or 2 wherein the second air inlet and the air channel are configured to give rise to turbulent air flow through the air flow channel between the second air inlet and the air outlet when suction is applied to the air outlet.
4. An aerosol generating device according to any preceding claim, wherein the second air inlet comprises a plurality of second apertures in the housing.
5. An aerosol generating device according to any preceding claim, wherein the first air inlet comprises a plurality of first apertures in the housing.
6. An aerosol generating device according to any preceding claim, wherein the housing comprises a mouthpiece portion surrounding the air outlet, such that suction on the mouthpiece draws air into the air flow channel through the first and second air inlets.
7. An aerosol generating device according to any preceding claim, wherein the device comprises a cartridge, the cartridge comprising the aerosol forming substrate and wherein a portion of the housing is formed by the cartridge and includes the second air inlet or the first air inlet, or both the first and second air inlets.
8. An aerosol generating element according to any preceding claim wherein the first air inlet and the air channel are configured to give rise to laminar air flow through the air flow channel when suction is applied to the air outlet.
9. An aerosol generating device according to any preceding claim wherein the aerosol- forming substrate is a liquid substrate.
10. An aerosol generating device according to any preceding claim further including means for altering the size of either the first air inlet or the second air inlet.
1 1 . An aerosol generating device according to claim 10 wherein the device is configured to automatically alter the size of the first air inlet or second air inlet based on the composition of the aerosol-forming substrate, the temperature of the heater or a detected flow rate through a portion of the device.
12. An aerosol generating device according to any preceding claim wherein the device is an electrically operated smoking device.
13. A cartridge comprising:
an aerosol-forming substrate;
a heater configured to heat the aerosol-forming substrate, the heater positioned within or adjacent to an air flow channel through the cartridge;
the air flow channel terminating at an outlet through which, in use, aerosol is delivered to a user; and
an air inlet in an external surface of the cartridge, the air inlet configured to allow air into the air flow channel at a position between the heater and the outlet, wherein the air inlet and the air flow channel are configured to give rise to turbulent air flow through the air flow channel when suction is applied to the outlet.
14. A consumable cartridge according to claim 13, wherein the cartridge is configured to be connected to a main body of an aerosol generating device comprising a power source for providing power to the heater.
15. A method of delivering an aerosol from an aerosol-forming substrate comprising the steps of:
vaporizing the aerosol-forming substrate in a first chamber through which air is flowing towards a second chamber,
condensing the vaporized substrate in the second chamber, including the step of supplying ambient air to the second chamber through an ambient air inlet, to generate an aerosol, at a rate selected to provide a maximum aerosol mass flow rate from the second chamber, and delivering the aerosol from the second chamber through an outlet in the second chamber.
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