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Halogen Technology in Cannabis Vaporizers: How NASA-Level Science Revolutionized Vaping

Published on January 28, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

This article is sponsored by Herbalizer, one of the leading suppliers of table-top vaporizers. Herbalizer provides you with the ultimate vaporizing experience as you honor your flower with our power. Check out Herbalizer’s exclusive Leafly discount offer here.

Given that his last job was as a prime contractor to NASA – a position that amounted to a great deal of autonomy, with decisions based heavily on technical merit – we asked Herbalizer’s Chief Technology Officer Bob Pratt if people thought he was crazy to start working on vaporizers.

“Absolutely!” he exclaimed. “[NASA] was a really, really fun job. Everything was a new design, and you could take a lot of license to do special things. I say to people, ‘You’ll never guess what I’m doing now’ – and they never do.”

So what drew him away from a successful career in the aerospace industry? A sense that vaporizers could be done better, coupled with the idea that doing things better would make a difference. “People truly receive almost one-of-a-kind relief,” says Pratt of cannabis vaporization. “Some of the stories are amazing. When I hear about people who have used vaporization and gotten off a prescription drug regimen that negatively influenced their lifestyle, it’s impactful.”

Building a Better Vaporizer

Herbalizer cannabis vaporizer CTO Bob Pratt at NASA

The first thing that clued the Herbalizer team into the fact that there might be room for improvement in the tabletop vaporizer field was the fact that in 2011, when brainstorming began, nothing groundbreaking had been released in years. “Usually your best guide as far as what’s possible [in an industry] is what the competition’s doing,” says Pratt. By those measures, reaching operating temperatures in under four minutes would have been lofty enough. Given their background in microelectromechanical systems, the team members set their sights higher, honing in on concrete goals of reaching operating temperature in under 30 seconds and filling a bag with vapor in under a minute – which, Pratt admits, “seemed like pie in the sky.” The ultimate objective was an incredibly responsive device that coupled ease of use with unprecedented accuracy.

With goals laid out, the team set about brainstorming, which is how the idea of halogen technology surfaced. As Pratt explains, “The halogen bulb actually is kind of interesting. They’re not necessarily utilized in our society in the best way – they’re a much better heater than they are a light source.” This is because the electromagnetic spectrum devoted to light is very small – the majority of the electromagnetic byproduct put out by halogen bulbs is not light, but heat.

“There were alternatives on the table,” says Pratt of the brainstorming process. “Inventing our own heater was one of them. But when we looked at it, the halogen bulb was almost an epiphany-type moment. It is very very fast to heat up, so you can get a lot of power. It basically makes our unit behave like a Ferrari, if you like performance analogies.”

Having settled on the superiority of halogen technology, the new challenge became to control it. A microprocessor and a custom control algorithm entered the picture. These modifiers govern the amount of heat available as the air moves through the device, which allows for the ultimate heating of the herbal material through convection. A small blower was put in place to push air past the halogen bulb, which is cloaked in glass. Air, in close proximity to the halogen bulb, is heated quickly and precisely, then transfers this heat to the vaporizer’s magnetic bowl, where the herbal material awaits. Important to note is the fact that the path through the vaporizer is completely inert – liner materials like glass, ceramic and stainless steel ensure that nothing undesirable is volatized into the airstream.

How Do Vaporizers Preserve Cannabis "Fidelity"?

The final result? The team exceeded its original goals for speed and temperature control alike. “Nothing is perfect, but we guarantee temperatures within five degrees of the goal temperature – and I can tell you that realistically, it’s generally in the order of plus or minus one degree,” says Pratt. The patented thermal reaction chamber hits its operating temperatures in less than 15 seconds.

Herbalizer – Relief By Design

We once believed man would never walk on the moon. Meet Bob Pratt.A former NASA engineer. He has spent his entire career creating things most people only dream about.He dreamed of putting technology to use, to create a healthy, more beautiful world. So something healthy and intensely beautiful was born. There is nothing else like it on Earth. For centuries we’ve been using herbs to relieve pain, anxiety, stress and all sorts of discomfort. And now we use technology in a very simple yet powerful way. Beyond anything that’s currently available. The most effective means ever imagined of delivering instantaneous relief with herbal remedies. For the first time you can control the intensity and effect of your experience.Temperature controls quality. Whether you’re using lavender, peppermint, concentrates, extracts, or anything else.It also diffuses essential oils making it a unique aromatherapy tool as well.It is more accurate to call it an aromatherapy vaporizer it prevents combustion giving you the smooth smoke free effect that you want.The question is what kind of experience do you want? Mild and uplifting? Or heavy and intense? Lower heat produces light vapor with lots of flavor and gentle effects. Higher heat a dense cloud with lots of intensities. Precision temperature control dictates what you extract from the herb. That determines how you feel. Because it heats up instantly, you achieve immediate results. It’s good for pain, it’s good for relief, and it’s good for a party. This level of control is critical for people who are hurting out there. Not only an aesthetic marvel, the Herbalizer delivers a superior vapor therapy experience that represents a revolution in all-natural herbal relief. Herbalizer, the world’s first smart vape.

Posted by Herbalizer on Thursday, January 14, 2016

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The Effects of a Controlled Vaporization Experience

So why should cannabis consumers care about these achievements? Aside from the ability to access to the benefits of cannabis at the touch of a button, temperature control affects the psychoactive experience. Different cannabinoids are released at different temperatures, meaning that by selecting varying temperatures for vaporization, consumers can control the compounds entering their bodies. “Because of the extremely tight temperature control, you have the ability to really tailor your experience,” Pratt explains. “There are about 28 well-known cannabinoids with varying concentrations available with most flower. You can experiment, find something you like, and then repeat it. The next time you vaporize the same strain at the same temperature, you’re going to have exactly the same ingredients entering your lungs. There’s all kinds of things to get into as far as selective extraction.” For medical consumers, especially those who consume cannabis on a regular basis, this level of jurisdiction over the experience can be invaluable for addressing specific conditions while maintaining control over quality of life.

The Herbalizer was released early in 2014, and although the team continues to work on refining the product, customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and Pratt confesses that he’s equally happy with the product. “Surprisingly enough for someone who always wants to tinker with things and improve them, we did a really good job of hitting most of the bullet points that we wanted,” he says.

Has he ever looked back to his days of working with stealth bombers and satellites? Not so much. “The whole venture has been kind of a life-changing thing…to do something outside the box was such a leap of faith that it’s liberated me, in that regard, for life,” says Pratt. “If I had to do it all over, I’d do it the same way.”

Quiz: What's Your Vaporizer IQ?

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