Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
E-LIQUID IDENTIFICATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2022/157187
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Aerosol generation device comprising at least one mouth piece, a control unit, a vapour generating unit (VGU), a conduit and an e-liquid housing, wherein the housing comprises a volume for housing a substance and wherein the conduit connects the volume to the VGU and wherein the fluid can flow from the fluid housing to the VGU. According to the invention the aerosol generation device further comprises at least one electromagnetic wave source suited to emit a radiation and a receiver suited to receive a radiation emitted by the electromagnetic wave source, wherein radiation emitted from the electromagnetic wave source traverses the fluid.

Inventors:
WRIGHT ALEC (GB)
GARCIA GARCIA EDUARDO JOSE (CH)
PILATOWICZ GRZEGORZ ALEKSANDER (CH)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2022/051110
Publication Date:
July 28, 2022
Filing Date:
January 19, 2022
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
JT INT SA (CH)
International Classes:
A24F40/50; A24F40/53; G01F23/292
Domestic Patent References:
WO2019115996A12019-06-20
WO2018046192A12018-03-15
WO2019115996A12019-06-20
Foreign References:
EP3357360A22018-08-08
GB2533652A2016-06-29
US20180098574A12018-04-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HANNKE BITTNER & PARTNER PATENTANWÄLTE UND RECHTSANWÄLTE MBB (DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
E-liquid identification

Claims

1. Aerosol generation device (1 ) comprising at least one mouthpiece (2), a control unit (6), a vapor generating unit (VGU) (5), a conduit (4) and an e-liquid housing (3), wherein the housing (3) comprises a volume for housing a substance and wherein the conduit (4) connects the volume to the VGU (5) and wherein the fluid can flow from the fluid housing (3) to the VGU (5), characterized in that, the aerosol generation device (1) further comprises at least one electromagnetic wave source (7) suited to emit a radiation and a receiver (8) suited to receive a radiation emitted by the electromagnetic wave source (7), wherein radiation emitted from the electromagnetic wave source (7) traverses the fluid.

2. Aerosol generation device (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that the electromagnetic wave source (7) and the electromagnetic wave receiver (8) are arranged at opposite sides of the conduit (4), wherein the conduit (4) is thereby arranged in between the electromagnetic wave source (7) and the electromagnetic wave receiver (8).

3. Aerosol generation device (1) according to at least one of the claims 1 to 2, characterized in that a radiation which is emitted by the electromagnetic wave source (7) traverses the conduit (4) before it is received by the electromagnetic wave receiver (8).

4. Aerosol generation device (1) according to at least one of the claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the control unit (6) is configured to control the VGU (5) based on at least one output value of the receiver (8).

5. Aerosol generation device (1) according to claim 4, characterized in that, the control unit (6) is configured to disable the device (1 ) and/or to provide a warning signal if the measured amount of transmitted light exceeds a tolerance range (e.g. threshold value) and/or a predefined value stored in the device (1).

6. Aerosol generation device (1) according to at least one of the preceding claims, characterized in that, the VGU (5) is a micro-electronic-mechanical-system (MEMS) comprising a thermal bubble jet device comprising at least one die and a heater and the control unit (6) is configured for energizing the heater to expel aerosol from the die in a pulsating manner.

7. Aerosol generation device (1) according to any one of claims 1 to 6, characterized in that, the control unit (6) is configured to identify at least one constituent and/or determine its concentration inside the conduit (4).

8. Aerosol generation device (1) according to claim 7, characterized in that, the control unit (6) is configured to determine the concentration of at least one constituent by the function of its absorption coefficient and/or the path length in the conduit (4) between the wave source (7) and the receiver (8) (i.e. using Beer-Lambert law).

9. Aerosol generation device (1) according to claim 8, characterized in that, the control unit (6) is configured to determine the concentration of a nicotinoid and/or a different constituent with a specific wavelength.

10. Aerosol generation device (1) according to any one of claims 7 to 9, characterized in that, the control unit (6) is configured to operate at least one operational parameter of the VGU (5) as a response to the determined concentration of the constituent.

11. Aerosol generation device (1) according to claim 10, - 14- characterizedin that, the operation parameter can be chosen amongst the list consisting of: temperature, volume, pulse frequency, voltage, aerosol ratio to at least two different dies (i.e. aerosol outlets), mixing ratio of two combined e-liquids.

12. Method for controlling operations of an aerosol generation device (1) comprising at least one mouthpiece (2), a control unit (6), a vapour generating unit (VGU) (5), a conduit (4) and an e-liquid housing (3), wherein the housing (3) comprises a volume for housing a substance and wherein the conduit (4) connects the volume to the VGU (5) and wherein the fluid can flow from the fluid housing (3) to the VGU (5), comprising the following steps: measuring the transmitted amount of an electromagnetic wave beam from the electromagnetic wave source (7) to the receiver (8), comparing the transmitted electromagnetic wave beam to a reference signal by the control unit (6) and operating the aerosol generation device (1) according to the result of the comparison.

13. Method according to claim 12, characterized in that, during the usage of the aerosol generation device (1), fluids pass the electromagnetic wave source (7) and receiver (8) through the conduit (4).

14. Method according to at least one of the preceding claims 12 and 13, characterized in that, the transmitted light is measured at a given wavelength, while a constituent is identified and/or concentration of the constituent inside the conduit (4) is determined.

15. Method according to at least one of the preceding claims 14, characterized in that, the concentration of at least one constituent is determined by the function of its absorption coefficient and the path length in the conduit (4) between the wave source (7) and the receiver (8) (i.e. using Beer-Lambert law).

16. Method according to at least one of the preceding claims 14 or 15, - 15- characterizedin that, the constituent is a nicotinoid and/or a different constituent (e.g. a flavouring) with a specific wavelength. 17. Method according to at least one of the preceding claims 13 to 16, characterized in that, depending on the concentration of a constituent the VGU (5) is operated by the control unit (6) according to at least one of the following parameters: temperature, volume, pulse frequency, voltage, aerosol ratio to at least two different dies (i.e. aerosol outlets), mixing ratio of two combined e-liquids.

Description:
E-liquid identification

Description

The present invention is related to an aerosol generation device comprising at least one mouthpiece, a control unit, a vapour generating unit (VGU), at least one conduit and at least one e-liquid housing, wherein the e-liquid housing comprises a volume for housing a fluid substance and wherein preferably the conduit connects the volume to the VGU and wherein the fluid can flow from the fluid housing to the VGU.

Such aerosol generating devices are known from the state of the art. They are preferably used to heat a smokable substance, preferably a liquid, which thereby generates an inhalable vapour. Since aerosol generating products were introduced the first time, a lot of changes and developments according to design and technology occurred. While the focus in the early devices was mainly on general functionality, the devices are being developed further and further in the direction of consumerfriendliness and safety.

Due to the further development of aerosol generating devices, the technology used in such devices is becoming smaller and more precise. Recently developed aerosol generating devices comprise microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), wherein these systems are arranged in the VGU and/or close to the VGU of a device. It is conceivable that MEMS systems are especially sensitive to high temperatures and that thereby they can be damaged by heating the VGU without a liquid inside the VGU. One major development corresponds to stop the heating of the device when it detects that there is no more e-liquid left. This is important from the point of view of both, user-friendliness and safety for the device, due to a dry puff might give the user a negative taste experience and may further require to prime the die for further use. It is conceivable that the VGU inside the device is damaged by a dry puff due to overheating. To solve this problem a detection of the filling level in an aerosol generating device is required. This level detection enables the aerosol generating device to automatically recognise whether and preferably also how much liquid is left inside the e-liquid housing. On base of this level detection, the aerosol generating device preferably gives a consumer a haptic and/or visual feedback and also preferably the electronic device does not continue to heat while an empty e-liquid housing inside the device is detected.

The publication WO2019115996 for example discloses a detection system which is capable of measuring the intensity of light which has traversed through an e-liquid housing made of a transparent material. Thereby the device detects whether the light has traversed a fluid inside the e-liquid housing or not, by simply measuring how intense the light beam after traversing the e-liquid housing is. However, this type of detection whether there is an e-liquid inside the e-liquid housing or not, is mainly dependent on the position of the aerosol generating device and thereby might be inaccurate, because the e-liquid can flow inside the housing according to the positioning and/or orientation of the device. Due to that the measuring device might not always determine accurate values, especially if the e-liquid housing is only partially filled with liquid.

It is therefore necessary to obtain exact measurements of the filling level and/or especially to measure whether an e-liquid is supplied to the VGU or not. Further it might be important to also measure the composition of at least one e-liquid just before entering the VGU, to be able to exactly adjust preferably heating related parameters of the VGU according to the constituents of the e-liquid.

It is therefore the object of the invention to provide an improved possibility to measure and/or detect the presence of an e-liquid. The object is addressed by providing an aerosol generating device which comprises a sensor which can accurately measure whether an e-liqu id is fed to the VGU, and if so, preferably which components this e- liquid contains.

According to the invention an aerosol generation device comprises at least one electromagnetic wave source (EWS) suited to emit a radiation and a receiver (EWR) suited to receive a radiation emitted by the electromagnetic wave source, wherein radiation emitted from the electromagnetic wave source traverses the fluid inside the aerosol generating device. Preferably at least a part of the liquid and/or a part of the conduit through which the liquid flows is traversed. Preferably a conduit, through which the liquid flows is transparent for the electromagnetic waves emitted by the EWS.

Preferably the EWS and the EWR are arranged at opposite sides of the conduit, whereby this means that the conduit is arranged in between the EWS and the EWR and thereby a radiation which is emitted by the EWS traverses the conduit before it is received by the EWR. It is conceivable that if there is a fluid inside the conduit, the radiation will also pass through the fluid on its way from the EWS to the EWR.

It is also conceivable that the radiation traverses the complete cross section of the conduit and/or the liquid.

Preferably the EWS and EWR are arranged at the conduit closer to the VGU than to the e-liquid housing to have a short possible delay between the measurement of a fluid inside the conduit and/or its constituents and its arrival at the VGU. The position of the EWR and EWS should be chosen in such a way that there is enough time left after the measurement to control the VGU according to the currently introduced fluid.

It is conceivable that conversely, it is equally important to detect the absence of a fluid as accurately as possible in order to avoid heating up and/or to only partially heat up the VGU without an e-liquid inside the VGU.

It is conceivable that by detecting the constituents inside the fluids especially means to detect the constituents inside the e-liquid. It is further conceivable that by detecting the absence of a fluid preferably the absence of an e-liquid (or the absence of a certain share of the e-liqu id) is meant which vice versa would mean the fluid which is then present is air.

In a preferred embodiment the control unit is configured to control the VGU based on at least one output value of the EWR. It is conceivable that the VGU is controlled according to multiple output values of the EWR. Preferably, the VGU is not controlled directly by the EWR, but via the control unit. It is conceivable that the EWR thereby first sends a signal to the control unit and the control unit controls the VGU according to the signal of the EWR.

Preferably at least one of the values after and/or by the use of which the VGU is controlled is, whether there is an e-liquid and/or air between the EWS and the EWR. Very preferably at least one signal of the EWR characterizes at least one constituent inside the e-liquid and/or at least one physical property of the radiation that traversed the liquid is characteristic for at least one constituent of the e-liquid.

Preferably the colour of the e-liquid, and very preferably also the nicotine content is determined. It is conceivable that at least one parameter which is controlled in the VGU is the operating temperature of the VGU. Very preferably also the flow rate by which the e-liquid is feeded into the VGU is regulated. It is conceivable that by controlling the feeding rate of the e-liquid, the aerosol generating device comprises a transport mechanism which is suitable for adjusting an e-liquid flow rate through the conduit. Preferably the e-liquid flow rate can also be controlled by the MEMS inside the VGU.

In another preferred embodiment the control unit is configured to disable the device and/or to provide a warning signal if the measured amount of transmitted light exceeds a tolerance range (e.g. threshold value) and/or a predefined value stored in the aerosol generating device. It is conceivable that an e-liquid inside the conduit and in between the EWS and the EWR weakens an electromagnetic wave beam from the EWS to the EWR and thereby the intensity of the beam which traverses from the EWS to the EWR.

It is conceivable that the beam intensity received at the EWR is higher if there is no liquid in the conduit between the EWS and EWR. Thus it is also conceivable that the control unit disables heating of the VGU when the EWR detects a too high electromagnetic wave beam. Preferably the control unit provides a haptic and/or visual feedback to the user if the EWR outputs a signal which equals the signal of air in between the EWS and EWR. This would signalize the user to refill e-liquid into the aerosol generating device and thereby to prevent operation of the device in an empty state.

It is also possible that reference recordings are made in the absence of e-liquid. This is preferably done because the conduit may change its characteristics towards electromagnetic waves over time. Preferably, each time the conduit is empty, a reference measurement is made and this reference measurement is taken as a new reference value for the analyses of a new portion of e-liquid.

In another preferred embodiment the VGU is a micro-electronic-mechanical-system (MEMS) comprising a thermal bubble jet device comprising at least one die and a heater and the control unit is configured for energizing the heater to expel aerosol from the die in a pulsating manner. Preferably the heater is controlled by the control unit according to the flow rate of e-liquid to the heater. The heater may be configured to heat the liquid on the vaporization surface until the liquid starts to boil and form bubbles. The gas bubbles comprise fluid in gaseous state due to a phase change of the liquid. It is conceivable that it also comprises air which is arranged inside the liquid. The amount of the liquid being boiled is usually low (e.g. 1% of the liquid above the vaporization surface). In the gaseous state, a fluid occupies a much larger volume than in the liquid state, which is why an overpressure is created when changing from the liquid to the gaseous state. It is conceivable that this overpressure is the driving force that subsequently drives the gas out of the device. It is conceivable that the heater is also controlled according to determined constituents inside the e-liquid. Such control may encompass adjusting the firing parameters setting of the VGU, in particular the pulse frequency or heater supplied voltage, according to different e- liquids and by that to achieve the best possible taste experience for a consumer.

Preferably the control unit is configured to identify at least one constituent and/or determine its concentration inside the conduit. Very preferably the control unit gives a haptic and or visual feedback to a consumer if the EWR outputs a signal which equals the signal of nicotine in between the EWS and EWR. It is conceivable that the control unit lights up a warning light if nicotine is detected. Preferably the warning light can emit multiple colours according to different concentrations of nicotine inside the e-liquid. It is conceivable that by means of the EWR, the control unit can also detect various other constituents inside the e-liquid. It is conceivable that also constituents such as active ingredients, e.g. for a therapeutic treatment, can be detected. Further it is conceivable that the control unit can detect illegal substances inside the e-liquid.

Preferably the device is disabled after detection of an illegal substance. Preferably the control unit can also measure particle sizes by signals emitted from the EWR and thereby preferably stop the VGU to heat, if particle sizes are detected which can be harmful to the aerosol generating device and/or damage the VGU. This would allow the control unit to shut down the device before a harmful particle, such as dirt and/or lumps in the e-liquid, can enter the VGU and cause irreparable damage to the system.

It is conceivable that at least two pairs of EWS and EWR are arranged at the conduit, wherein the first pair of EWS and EWR is preferably arranged at the end of the conduit where a fluid enters the conduit and the second pair of EWS and EWR is preferably arranged at the end of the conduit at which a fluid exits the conduit. It is conceivable that by the signals of both EWRs the control unit can determine or anticipate liquid disruption e.g. by measuring presence and/or size of an air pocket inside the conduit. In the case a small air pocket is detected preferably only one of the EWR would detect it inside the conduit, wherein in the case a large air pocket is detected preferably both of the EWRs would detect it inside the conduit. This way of measuring whether the e-liquid housing is empty is reliable and preferably only allows the VGU to heat partially up, if there is no e-liquid left inside the aerosol generating device.

In a preferred embodiment the control unit is configured to determine the concentration of at least one constituent by the function of its absorption coefficient and the path length in the conduit between the wave source and the receiver. Preferably, this determination is made according to the Beer-Lambert law, wherein the principle of the Beer-Lambert law is to relate the attenuation of light to the properties of the material through which the light is travelling. Preferably for this method, the electromagnetic wave absorption of the conduit, and very preferably also the electromagnetic wave absorption of the conduit filled with air is known to be able to determine the difference to a conduit filled with an e-liquid. Very preferably the inner diameter of the conduit is also known and very preferably also the outer diameter and material of the conduit, to be able to apply the Beer Lambert law to an e-liquid inside the conduit.

In a preferred embodiment the control unit is configured to determine the concentration of a nicotinoid and/or a different constituent with a specific wavelength. To detect a nicotinoid, the EWR preferably receives an electromagnetic wave spectrum with a reduced strength at 260 nm, due to the absorption peak which nicotine has at this wavelength. It is conceivable that every substance inside the e- liquid can be detected which has an absorption peak inside the spectrum of the emitted spectrum by the EWS. This would have the advantage to not only being able to detect nicotine, but also various other substances, preferably such as a flavouring and/or other vaporizable substances. In particular the detection of flavourings may provide reliable authentication of a genuine e-liquid and differentiating it from a counterfeiting or defective e-liquid. In other possible uses, specific therapeutic active ingredients can be detected.

In a preferred embodiment the control unit is configured to operate at least one operational parameter of the VGU as a response to the determined concentration of the constituent. It is conceivable that the VGU operates the vaporizing temperature according to the nicotine concentration in the e-liquid. Preferably the control unit also reduces the amount of vapoured e-liquid if the nicotine concentration is very high. And also preferably the VGU vapours more e-liquid if the nicotine concentration is low. This would have the advantage that a consumer always inhales a similar nicotine concentration averaged over time, which is independent of the nicotine concentration inside the e-liquid. It is conceivable that the same applies for other medication and/or vaporizable substances as well. Preferably also the temperature of the VGU is controlled by the control unit according to the concentration of at least one constituent inside the e-liquid. Very preferably this happens while the aerosol generating device is used for administering medicine to the consumer. In this case the medicine could be vapoured with the most optimal temperature. ln a preferred embodiment the operation parameter can be chosen amongst the list consisting of: temperature, volume, pulse frequency, heater supplied voltage, aerosol ratio to at least two different dies (i.e. aerosol outlets), and mixing ratio of two combined e-liquids.

It is conceivable that the aerosol generating device comprises at least two e-liquid housings, wherein both e-liquid housings comprise different constituents. Preferably a consumer can thereby adjust the amount of each constituent being vapoured in the VGU and very preferably the control unit automatically adjusts these parameters according to the signals of the EWR. It is conceivable that the control unit also controls the mixing ratio of at least two e-liquids based on signals of the EWR.

The present invention is also directed to a method for controlling operations of an aerosol generation device and especially an aerosol generating device according to the invention comprising the following steps: measuring the transmitted amount of an electromagnetic wave beam from the electromagnetic wave source to the receiver, comparing the transmitted electromagnetic wave beam to a reference signal by the control unit and operating the aerosol generation device according to the result of the comparison.

In a preferred embodiment, fluids pass the electromagnetic wave source and receiver through the conduit during the usage of the aerosol generation device. It is conceivable that air passes the conduit, when the e-liquid housing is empty.

In a preferred embodiment the transmitted light is measured at a given wavelength, while a constituent is identified and/or concentration of the constituent inside the conduit is determined. Preferably by measuring a specific wavelength of the traversed electromagnetic waves, the e-liquid can be checked especially for the presence of a constituent, which has an absorption peak at that wavelength. This is preferably used to be able to lock the aerosol generating device, for example, if a non-desirable substance is detected. A specific amount of a constituents may also be determined e.g. to ensure that the ingredient release per puff is accurately controlled. It is conceivable that the device is not operated and thereby locked after detecting a predetermined amount of constituent(s) is released.

In a preferred embodiment the concentration of at least one constituent is determined by the function of its absorption coefficient and the path length in the conduit between the wave source and the receiver (i.e. using Beer-Lambert law).

In a preferred embodiment the constituent is a nicotinoid and/or a different constituent with a specific wavelength. In another preferred embodiment, depending on the concentration of a constituent, the VGU is operated by the control unit according to at least one of the following parameters:

- temperature, volume, pulse frequency, voltage, aerosol ratio to at least two different dies (i.e. aerosol outlets), mixing ratio of two combined e-liquids.

Further advantages and embodiments according to the invention are illustrated in the attached drawing.

Herein show:

Fig. 1 an electronic smoking device according to the invention

Figure 1 illustrates a two-dimensional view into an aerosol generating device 1 according to the invention. The aerosol generating device 1 extends with its length direction in the longitudinal direction L, wherein it also extends with its width and/or cross section direction into the width direction B. The device 1 comprises a battery unit 10 and a mouthpiece 2, wherein both of them are preferably arranged at opposite ends of the device 1 , according the longitudinal direction L.

Further the device 1 comprises a substance cartridge 3, the conduit 4, the VGU 5, the chipset 6, the electromagnetic wave source (EWS) 7, the electromagnetic wave receiver (EWR) 8 and a data connection 9, which are preferably arranged between the battery unit 10 and the mouthpiece 2 preferably also along the longitudinal direction L. The e-liquid housing 3 is preferably arranged in the device 1 in such a way that a consumer has easy access to at least one closable hole inside the e-liquid housing 3, to be able to refill it with vaporizable e-liquid. The e-liquid housing 3 is in a fluid connection to the VGU 5 via the conduit 4, which is why the e-liquid housing 3 preferably comprises at least one more outlet through which e-liquid can flow from the e-liquid housing 3 through the conduit 4 and into the VGU 5.

While an e-liquid and/or a different fluid flows through the conduit 4 from the e-liquid housing 3 towards the VGU 5, it passes the EWS 7 and EWR 8, which are arranged at the conduit 4 between the e-liquid housing and the VGU.. Preferably the delay between analysing a fluid inside the conduit 4 and the fluid being vapoured inside the VGU 5 is relatively short. It is preferred that the EWS 7 and EWR 8 are arranged such that the conduit is arranged between the EWS 7 and EWR 8 to be able to analyse a fluid inside the conduit 4.

Preferably the EWS 7 emits an electromagnetic wave signal, e.g. generated by a LED, in the width direction B towards the EWR 8, wherein the electromagnetic wave signal traverses the conduit 4 before reaching the EWR 8 and thereby preferably also traverses the e-liquid and/or different fluid inside the conduit 4. For this reason, the conduit 4 is preferably manufactured from a material which is permeable (and/or transmitting) to electromagnetic waves and especially radiation of the used wavelength).

After the EWR 8 receives a corresponding signal which is transmitted to the control unit 6 via a data connection 9. The signal which is transmitted to the control unit 6 is preferably a spectral analysis which covers the same wavelength range as the range transmitted by the EWS 7. The control unit 6 is preferably able to control the VGU 5 according to the data from the EWR 8. On the base of the predetermined signals from the control unit 6, the VGU heats up to and/or varies in e-liquid flow rate. The e-liquid flow rate can be varied e.g. by changing the firing frequency of the VGU. The e-liquid which has passed the EWS 7 and EWR 8 exits the conduit 4 into the VGU 5, wherein the e-liquid is afterwards vaporized by heat into vapour 1 1 . The vapour 1 1 is released into the mouthpiece 2, for which the VGU 5 comprises a fluid connection to the mouthpiece 2. This enables vapour 1 1 to flow from the VGU 5 into the mouthpiece 2 along a flow path V, which is parallel to the longitudinal direction L. Reference signs

1 aerosol generating device

2 mouth piece

3 e-liquid housing

4 conduit

5 vapour generating unit (VGU)

6 control unit

7 electromagnetic wave source (EWS)

8 electromagnetic wave receiver (EWR)

9 data connection

10 battery unit

11 vapour

L longitudinal direction

B width direction

V flow direction of vapour