Electronic cigarettes have received a large amount of press recently with a number of studies researching the increased use of e-cigarettes in the UK. The BBC published an article at the beginning of the year predicting that e-cigarette use in the UK is set to reach 1 million users this year. But what exactly are electronic cigarettes and what is the technology behind these devices?
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices which heat a water-based nicotine e-liquid until it becomes a vapour that can then be inhaled by users, this is known as vaping. The physical action of vaping is similar to smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette. E-cigarettes contain significantly less of the known harmful chemicals produced when burning tobacco. There are no second hand smoking dangers associated with them as they only release a water mist or vapour.
There are two types of e-cigarette products – disposable throw-away devices and rechargeable battery-operated models. E-cigarettes are made up of three major technical components: the battery, vapour device and refill capsule or e-liquid holder.
The batteries developed and used to power e-cigarettes are usually lithium ion batteries. Intellicig, a leading e-cigarette company based in Manchester are at the forefront of e-cigarette technology. They have designed a 10 second cut-off feature within their products. This additional feature means that if the battery is activated for longer than 10 seconds, the microprocessor will register that and automatically turn off the device to prevent it from overheating. Cleverly, it also allows a few more seconds for the device to fully cool down before it returns to normal standby mode. At one end of the device is a coloured LED light which illuminates when it is in use. The coloured light highlights that the device is an e-cigarette and not a traditional cigarette.
The vapour device is a consumable piece of technology designed for heating the e-liquid solution. An atomiser inside the vapour device heats the e-liquid solution until it becomes a vapour which can then be inhaled by the user. The vapour device is repeatedly heated and cooled during use and it is recommended that you purchase spare vapour device components if you are using a rechargeable model.
The refill capsule holds the e-liquid. In a rechargeable e-cigarette device these capsules can be replaced. E-liquid is available in a range of different nicotine strengths and flavours. The capsule part of the device also acts as the mouthpiece through which to inhale the e-liquid. Refillable models are a cost-effective vaping option. Once a capsule is empty, simply unscrew and discard, before replacing with a new capsule. The disposable refill capsules or cartridges are sometimes referred to as cartomisers and they connect to the battery and vapour device.
The majority of electronic cigarettes are designed and manufactured as three piece models. E-cigarette technology is constantly been improved and developed. It is a fast-paced and continually changing industry with new products and accessories been introduced all the time. It will be interesting to see what the next step is in the e-cig market and what products will be released, with companies investing a huge amount of money into developing new technology to offer users an enhanced vaping experience.