BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention generally relates to the field of vaporizers for consuming botanical materials, and more particularly to an apparatus and method for using a portable, self-contained vaporizer for heating the materials to a temperature sufficient to release the volatile components without combustion.
2. Discussion of the Background
Devices for consuming botanical materials, including but not limited to tobacco, flowers, botanical blend, or aromatic herbs, commonly ignite the botanical materials, requiring that the consumer inhale products of combustion along with any volatile compounds that are present. For many botanical materials it is the volatiles, such as the nicotine present in tobacco, that provide a physiological response in the consumer, while the combustion products may actually be harmful.
Prior art vaporizers commonly employ a continuous heating source such as a butane-powered flame, a butane powered catalytic burner, or an electrical resistive heater. The heat source in many such devices is conductive as it is in direct contact with the material or the receptacle containing the material. This may result in high temperatures, leading to singing and charring of the botanical material near the heat source.
Further, many prior art vaporizers require several minutes of heat-up time as they need to heat both the mass of the botanical material and a holder of the material to a desired temperature before they can extract volatile vapors.
Further, since the heating is typically continuous, rather than on-demand, many existing vaporizers use their power inefficiently as they are often providing heat to maintain a steady state of elevated temperature that does not correspond to the user's intended duty-cycle of intermittent inhalation of the vapors produced.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
One embodiment of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages of prior art by providing a vaporizer that entirely contains a botanical material to be consumed.
Another embodiment of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages of prior art by providing a vaporizer having an upper portion that may be removably placed on a lower portion to contain a botanical material to be consumed. In one embodiment, the upper and lower portions are held in place with magnets.
Yet another embodiment of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages of prior art by providing an enclosed vaporizer having a window for viewing a botanical material contained therein. In one embodiment, the window also allows the extracted vapor and glow from a heating element to be viewed.
One embodiment of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages of prior art by providing an enclosed vaporizer that allows the glow from a heating element to also be viewed through an air inlet.
Another embodiment of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages of prior art by providing a vaporizer having a heating element suspended in a transparent heating chamber that allows for the transmission of light generated by the heating element of the device.
Yet another embodiment of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages of prior art by providing an enclosed vaporizer having a heating element suspended in a transparent heating chamber that is integrated with and concentric to the material chamber.
One embodiment of the present invention includes a computer controlled temperature regulation system that allows for the proper vaporization temperatures for aromatic herbs, flowers, and tobacco.
Another embodiment of the present invention includes a vaporizer having rechargeable battery that is removable by the user.
It is one aspect of the present invention to provide vaporizer to provide a user with a vapor from a botanical material. The vaporizer includes a housing; a heater substantially within the housing including an electrical energy storage device, a user-operable switch, a heating element, and an electrical circuit including the electrical energy storage device, the user-operable switch, and the heating element, where the electrical circuit is adapted to provide energy from the electrical energy storage device to the heating element when the user-operable switch is actuated. The vaporizer further includes a passageway with the housing, the passageway including an air inlet, a heater section to provide thermal contact with air within the heater and the heating element, a receptacle for containing a botanical material, and an air outlet. The user may thus actuate the user-operable switch and inhale through the outlet to draw air external to the vaporizer to sequentially, heat air in contact with the heating element to a heated air temperature, at least partially vaporize the botanical material with the heated air, then provide at least a portion of the vaporized botanical material through the outlet to the user.
It is another aspect of the present invention to provide a method of providing a vapor of a botanical material using a vaporizer. The method includes manually actuating the vaporizer, where the vaporizer includes stored electric energy, a receptacle for containing the botanical material, and a flow passageway extending from an inlet, through a manually actuatible heater to accept the stored electric energy and heat air, through the receptacle, to an outlet; and inhaling through the outlet. Air is thus drawn external to the vaporizer into the passageway and sequentially, has the air temperature increased in the heater, heats and extracts a vapor from the botanical material, and provides the vapor to the user.
It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a vaporizer to provide a user with a vapor from a botanical material. The vaporizer includes a heating element, and a passageway including an air inlet; a heater section to provide thermal contact with air within the heater and the heating element; a receptacle for containing a botanical material; a window to transmit thermal radiation from the heater section to the user, and an air outlet. The user has a visual cue that inhaled air may be heated to a temperature sufficient to vaporize the botanical material.
It is one aspect of the present invention to provide a method of providing a vapor of a botanical material using a vaporizer, where the method includes manually actuating the vaporizer, where the vaporizer includes a receptacle for containing the botanical material, and a flow passageway extending from an inlet, through a heater to heat air, through the receptacle, to an outlet, and a window to allow a user to view thermal radiation from the heater; and when a user perceives a glow from the heater through the window, inhaling through the outlet. The user thus has a visual cue that inhaled air may be heated to a temperature sufficient to vaporize the botanical material.
a receptacle for containing the botanical material, and a flow passageway extending from an inlet, through a heater to heat air, through the receptacle, to an outlet, and a window to allow a user to view thermal radiation from the heater, the method comprising: manually actuating the heater; and when a user perceives a glow from the heater through the window, inhaling through the outlet. The user thus has a visual cue that inhaled air may be heated to a temperature sufficient to vaporize the botanical material.
These features together with the various ancillary provisions and features which will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, are attained by the vaporizer of the present invention, preferred embodiments thereof being shown with reference to the accompanying drawings, by way of example only, wherein:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING
FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of one embodiment of a vaporizer;
FIG. 2 is a top view of the vaporizer of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a left side view of the vaporizer of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a distal end view of the vaporizer of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a proximal end view of the vaporizer of FIG. 1
FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of the vaporizer of FIG. 1 with the upper portion removed from the lower portion;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view 7-7 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 8 is a sectional view 8-8 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 9 is an exploded view of one embodiment of a heater block;
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a partially assembled heater block;
FIG. 11 is the view of FIG. 6 illustrating air flow through the vaporizer; and
FIG. 12 is a cut-away perspective sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 11
FIG. 13 is a schematic view of one embodiment of the electronics within the vaporizer.
Reference symbols are used in the Figures to indicate certain components, aspects or features shown therein, with reference symbols common to more than one Figure indicating like components, aspects or features shown therein.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of one embodiment of a hand-held vaporizer 100, and FIGS. 2, 3, 4, and 5 are, respectively, views of a top side 106, a left side 202, a distal end 104, and a proximal end 102 of the vaporizer.
Vaporizer 100 includes a housing 101 having a mouthpiece 103 with an opening 311 into the vaporizer at proximal end 102, an air inlet 105 at distal end 104, and a window 107 on top side 106 through which one can view a botanical material placed within the vaporizer, and a push-button switch 109 on a right side 108. Left side 202 includes a power switch 201, a power connector 305, indicator lights 307, and a recess 309.
Housing 101 is formed from a rigid material, and may include one or more pieces or layers of metal or plastic. Thus, for example, sides 108, 202, and ends 102, 104 include a case 207 and a removable bottom panel 303, and top side 106 includes an elongated portion 205 and a bezel 203 protruding above and surrounding window 107.
Window 107 is preferably a scratch resistant material that is transparent to visible light, and may be, for example and without limitation, a glass, such as a borosilicate glass or a crystal quartz or fused quartz material.
Vaporizer 100 is preferably sized to be hand-held, and may have dimensions of a height, H, of from 20 to 30 mm, such as height H of 25 mm, a length, L, of from 110 to 170 mm, such as a length L of 140 mm, and a width, W, of from 40 mm to 60 mm, such as a width of 50 mm.
Indicator lights 307 may include one light, or several different color lights (such as red, green, and/or blue) to indicate if vaporizer 100 is being powered, temperature settings, and/or battery power remaining in the vaporizer.
In general, a user may open housing 101 utilizing recess 309 and place a botanical material in a bowl (described subsequently) below window 107, grasp case 207, and push push-button switch 109. In certain embodiments, within several seconds of pushing push-button switch 109 a heater (describe subsequently) within vaporizer 100 emits visible light through window 107 and through air inlet 105 to indicate that a proper temperature has been reached and that the user should inhale though opening 311 in mouthpiece 103. The action of inhaling causes air to be drawn in through air inlet 105 where it is first heated in the heater and then vaporizes the botanical material, the vapors of which are inhaled by the user through the mouthpiece. In addition, power switch 201 may include several settings, such as a power off setting, a low power setting and a high temperature setting for controlling a temperature of vaporizer 100, and power connector 305 allows for recharging of an internal battery.
FIG. 6 as a top perspective view of vaporizer 100 illustrating that the vaporizer includes an upper portion 210 and a lower portion 220. Upper portion 210 includes elongated portion 205, bezel 203, and window 107. In addition, elongated portion 205 forms surfaces 611, lip 613, recess 615, and includes magnets 621 and a window fixture 631. Window fixture 631 further includes include flat surfaces 633 and grooves 635, and is held onto elongated portion 205 with screws 637, as shown in more detail in FIG. 7.
Lower portion 220 includes case 207, bottom panel 303, mouthpiece 103, air inlet 105, push-button switch 109, power switch 201, power connector 305, indicator lights 307, and recess 309. As shown in FIG. 7, air inlet 105 is formed from a grill 703 that may be separate from case 207, and a wire mesh 705 to prevent contaminants from entering vaporizer 100. In addition, lower portion 220 includes a surface 601 and a ledge 603. Surface 601 includes openings into the interior of the housing, and specifically a first opening 607 and a second opening 605 exposing a recessed bowl 640 having an upper surface 604, which is contiguous with surface 601 and a bottom mesh 717.
Surface 601 is, or includes, a material that is attracted to magnets 621. When upper portion 210 is placed on lower portion 220, as in FIG. 1, magnets 621 are attracted to a top 601 such that lip 613 contacts ledge 603, surfaces 611 contact surface 601, surfaces 601 and 604 contact surface 633, and recess 615 and grooves 635 do not contact either surface 601 or 604, providing a gap that provides for air flow between opening 605 and 607.
A more detailed description of one embodiment of upper portion 210 and lower portion 220 are illustratively shown in FIG. 7, which is a sectional view 7-7 of FIG. 2, and FIG. 8, which is a sectional view 8-8 of FIG. 3.
Upper portion 210 includes window fixture 631, which is attached to elongated portion 205 with screws 637. Window fixture may also include gaskets or o-rings to provide a gas-tight seal for window 107.
Surface 601 of lower portion 220 is held onto case 207 using screws 701. Grill 703 forming air inlet 105 is attached to case 207, and a wire mesh 705 is placed against grill 703 and inside vaporizer 100 to prevent contaminants from entering the vaporizer.
Lower portion 220 also includes a heater section 710, control electronics 720, and an energy storage section 730. Heater section 710 further includes a heater block 711 including a lower core 702 and upper core 704 that form having a passageway 713 including a heating element 715, and bowl 640 having a mesh 717 bottom, bowl sides 719, opening 605, a temperature sensor, as shown and discussed subsequently.
In one embodiment, heating element 715 is a resistive coil, such as nickel-chromium alloys such as NICHROME™, INCONEL™, or a FeCrAl alloy, such as KANTHAL™, and cores 702 and 704 are transparent to visible light, and may constructed, for example, from borosilicate glass, crystal quartz or fused quartz. Thus when power is dissipated within heating element 715, a glow may be visible through window 107 and/or air inlet 105.
Control electronics 720 includes a circuit board 723 on which are mounted a programmable processor 725, a power controller 727, and other digital and/or analogue circuitry for controlling and powering vaporizer 100, such as power switch 201, power connector 305, and indicator lights 307. In addition, other switches, buttons, and sensors, such as temperature sensors, may be dispersed throughout vaporizer 100 and may be wired into control electronics 720. Energy storage section 730 includes a battery frame 733 attached to case 207 and battery 731.
In one embodiment, battery 731 is a 7.4 V, 800 mAh with a discharge rate of 7 C.
FIG. 9 is an exploded view of heater block 711, which includes a bottom heat transfer mat 910, a lower core 920, a middle heat transfer mat 930, power and control components 940, an upper core 950, and a top heat transfer mat 960. Lower core 920 and upper core 950 may be, for example and without limitation, lower core 702 and upper core 704, respectively.
Lower mat 910 includes an opening 911 and a slot 913. Lower core 920 includes an opening 921 that is positioned above slot 913, a groove 922, a heating element support 923, a circular recess 934 with a central mesh support 925, a temperature sensor receptacle 927, and element ground receptacle 926 and a heating element power receptacle 928. Middle heat transfer mat 930 includes an outer portion 931 and an inner portion 935 that supports mesh 717.
Power and control components 940 include heating element 715 attached to a compression fitting 945 connected to a ground wire 947, and to a compression fitting 943 connected to a power lead 949, and a temperature sensor 942. Upper core 950 includes opening 605 and bowl sides 719. Top heat transfer mat 960 includes an opening 961
Mats 910, 930, and 950 are preferably formed from a high-temperature food-safe silicone rubber. Lower core 920 and upper core 950 are preferable formed from borosilicate glass or quartz crystal. Mesh 717 is preferably formed from stainless steel. Temperatures sensor 942 is preferably a glass-coated thermistor, such as a model G100K4000C1 manufactured by Measurement Specialties Inc., of Hampton, Va.
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a partially assembled heater block 711. As shown in FIG. 10, upper core 950 also includes a groove 1001, a heating element support 1003, a heating element power receptacle 1005, a heating element ground receptacle 1003, and a temperature sensor receptacle 1009. Heating element 715 is placed with grooves 922 and 1001, and is supported midway by heating element supports 923 and 1003, compression fitting 945 is sandwiched between receptacles 926 and 1007, and compression fitting 943 sandwiched between receptacles 928 and 1005. When assembled, passageway 713 is formed by mated grooves 922 and 1001. In addition, temperature sensor 942 is sandwiched between temperature sensor receptacles 927 and 1009 such that the temperature of a gas may be sensed near mesh 717.
The operation of vaporizer 100 will now be discussed with reference to FIG. 11, which is the view of FIG. 6 illustrating air flow through the vaporizer, FIG. 12, which is a cut-away perspective sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, and FIG. 13, which is a schematic view of one embodiment of the electronics within the vaporizer.
FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate the placement of botanical materials M within bowl 640, and the flow of air and vapors through vaporizer 100. Specifically, FIG. 11 shows upper portion 210 removed from lower portion 220. This configuration provides access to bowl 640 for cleaning and placing fresh a fresh botanical material M and to clean otherwise internal surfaces 601 and 611, recess 615 and window fixture 631.
When upper portion 210 and lower portion 220 are assembled, as in FIG. 1, recesses 615 and 635 form an air passage between bowl 640 and opening 607. Specifically, FIG. 11 illustrates portions of surfaces 601 and 604 which contact surfaces 611 and 633 (shown as 601a), restriction or prohibiting air flow, while other portions of surfaces 601 and 604 do not contact recesses 615 or 635 (shown as surface 601b) and thus provide an air flow passageway. Thus, as illustrated with arrows, air flow is shown an entering air inlet 105, moving up through bowl 640 and opening 605, between upper portion 210 and lower portion 220 along surfaces 601b, down through opening 607, and then through opening 501.
FIG. 12 illustrates the flow of air from air inlet 105 though bowl 640. Air is drawn though opening 911, along slot 913, up through opening 921, through passageway 713, where the air is heated by contact with heating element 715, up through mesh 717 into bowl 640, along surface 601 to opening 607 and through opening 311 of mouthpiece 103.
FIG. 13 is a schematic 1300 illustrating control electronics 720 of vaporizer 100. Thus, for example and without limitation, schematic 1300 shows connections between power switch 201, push-button switch 109, indicator lights 307, battery 731, programmable processor 725, power controller 727, temperature sensor 942, and heating element 715.
In addition to providing temperature control for the process of vaporizing a botanical material, control electronics 720 may also prevents the vaporizer body and internal components from overheating and causing damage to the battery, computer, or other internal components.
Processor 725 is powered from battery 731 and is programmed to accept input from power switch 201, push-button switch 109 and temperature sensor 942, provide power to one or more indicator lights 307, and provide a signal to power controller 727. Power controller 727 accepts command signals from processor 725 to provide power from battery 731 to heating element 715.
Power switch 201 may have 2 or more setting, such as an “off” setting, and an “on” setting, or an “off” setting, a “low temperature” setting and a “high temperature” setting. With power switch 201 in the “off” setting, all electronics in vaporizer 100 are powered off. With power switch 201 in an “on,” “low temperature” or “high temperature” setting, processor 725 has a corresponding stored on temperature (TON), low temperature (TL) or high temperature (TH) which are target temperatures for controlling a temperature measured by temperature sensor 942. As described above, temperature sensor 942 measures the air temperature just before the heated air flows through bowl 640.
Indictor lights 307 may include lights that are programmed to provide an indication of the operation of vaporizer 100. Thus, for example and without limitation, indicator lights 307 may include a dim green light that is powered to indicate that vaporizer 100 is powered on in a low temperature setting, a bright green light that is powered to indicate that the vaporizer is powered in a high temperature setting, blinking blue light to indicate that the vaporizer is charging, a red light to indicate that battery power is low, and a solid red light to indicate the device is overheated and has been automatically shut down.
In addition, with power switch 201 in an “on,” “low temperature” or “high temperature” setting, and with push-button switch 109 pressed, processor 725 provides signals to power controller 727 to provide electric power from battery 731 to heating element 715. In certain embodiments, processor 725 uses a control algorithm, such as a PID control algorithm, to power heating element 715 such that the temperature, T, measured by temperature sensor 942 is maintained at the temperature indicated by power switch 201.
The target temperature of temperature sensor 942 is selected to effectively drive off volatiles from the botanical material. While not meant to limit the use of the present invention, the Table I contains effective vaporization temperatures of some botanical material
Vaporization Temperature of Common Botanical Materials
LOW TEMPERATURE: 100° C. 150° C.
123° C. to 150° C.
100° C. to 130° C.
125° C. to 150° C.
100° C. to 150° C.
125° C. to 150° C.
MEDIUM TEMPERATURE: 150° C.-175° C.
125° C. to 175° C.
HIGH TEMPERATURE: 175° C.-200° C.
175 C. to 200 C.
175 C. to 200 C.
175 C. to 200 C.
175 C. to 200 C.
175 C. to 200 C.
175 C. to 200 C.
In general, the target temperature as measured by temperature sensor 942 is in the range of from 145° C. to 205° C., and may be, for example and without limitation, be approximately 145° C., 150° C., 155° C., 160° C., 165° C., 170° C., 175° C., 180° C., 185° C., 195° C., 200° C. or 205° C. For multiple temperature settings, such as a “low temperature” and “high temperatures,” the low temperature setting maybe suitable for vaporizing low temperature volatiles such as tobacco and have a temperature in the range of from 150° C. to 165° C., with a value, for example of 150° C., 155° C., 160° C., or 165° C. The high temperature setting maybe suitable for vaporizing higher temperature volatiles, such as ginseng, and have a temperature of 190° C. to 205° C., with a value, for example of 190° C., 195° C., 200° C., or 205° C.
Examples of the Use of the Vaporizer
The following are examples of the user of vaporizer 100. With reference to FIGS. 1 and 3, with power switch 201 in an “off position,” a user grasps lower portion 220 in one hand and places their thumb in recess 309 to remove upper portion 210. With reference to FIG. 6, a user may then clean the various internal surfaces and bowl 640, and place a fresh sample of a botanical material in the bowl. Upper portion 210 may then be securely placed on top of lower portion 220.
As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, a user may, at any time, look through window 107 to verify the presence of a botanical material.
Next, the user switches power switch 201 to an appropriate non “off” setting (such as “on,” “low temperature,” or “high temperature”).
Next, the user presses push-button switch 109. Within a few seconds, control electronics 720 has provided sufficient power to raise the air near temperature sensor 942 to the target temperature, as stored within processor 725. The glow from heating element 715 may be seen by the user through window 107 and/or through air inlet 105. For certain botanical materials the extracted vapor may also be viewed through window 107.
With the visible indication of a proper temperature, the user may then inhale through mouthpiece 103. Air is then drawn into air inlet 105, through passageway 713, through the botanical material in bowl 640, between grooves 635 and surface 601, along surface 601 into opening 607, and then through opening 311 to the user's mouth.
The majority of power provided to heating element 715 heats air within passageway 713, and thus the botanical material within bowl 640 is vaporized convectively as the hot air flows through the botanical material.
The surfaces which contact the heated air as it flows between surface 601 and upper portion 210 will act as a “heat sink,” causing the gases to cool from high temperature of heating element 715 to approximately room temperature. After inhaling, the user then releases push-button switch 109, which reduces the power though heating element 715.
It will be understood that the apparatus described herein includes, but is not limited to, certain digital and analog components. It will be understood that the invention is not limited to any particular implementation, programming technique, or combination of analog or digital components, and that the invention may be implemented using any appropriate devices or techniques for implementing the functionality described herein.
Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment” or “an embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment” or “in an embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner, as would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art from this disclosure, in one or more embodiments.
Similarly, it should be appreciated that in the above description of exemplary embodiments of the invention, various features of the invention are sometimes grouped together in a single embodiment, figure, or description thereof for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure and aiding in the understanding of one or more of the various inventive aspects. This method of disclosure, however, is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed invention requires more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive aspects lie in less than all features of a single foregoing disclosed embodiment. Thus, the claims following the Detailed Description are hereby expressly incorporated into this Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment of this invention.
Thus, while there has been described what is believed to be the preferred embodiments of the invention, those skilled in the art will recognize that other and further modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention, and it is intended to claim all such changes and modifications as fall within the scope of the invention.