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Nicotine Tob Res. 2017 Oct 1;19(10):1224-1231. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntw147.

An Electronic Cigarette Vaping Machine for the Characterization of Aerosol Delivery and Composition.

Author information

Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA.
Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, CA.
UCSF Tobacco Center of Regulatory Sciences (TCORS), University of California, San Francisco, CA.
Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA.



Characterization of aerosols generated by electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is one method used to evaluate the safety of e-cigarettes. While some researchers have modified smoking machines for e-cigarette aerosol generation, these machines are either not readily available, not automated for e-cigarette testing or have not been adequately described. The objective of this study was to build an e-cigarette vaping machine that can be used to test, under standard conditions, e-liquid aerosolization and nicotine and toxicant delivery.


The vaping machine was assembled from commercially available parts, including a puff controller, vacuum pump, power supply, switch to control current flow to the atomizer, three-way value to direct air flow to the atomizer, and three gas dispersion tubes for aerosol trapping. To validate and illustrate its use, the variation in aerosol generation was assessed within and between KangerTech Mini ProTank 3 clearomizers, and the effect of voltage on aerosolization and toxic aldehyde generation were assessed.


When using one ProTank 3 clearomizer and different e-liquid flavors, the coefficient of variation (CV) of aerosol generated ranged between 11.5% and 19.3%. The variation in aerosol generated between ProTank 3 clearomizers with different e-liquid flavors and voltage settings ranged between 8.3% and 16.3% CV. Aerosol generation increased linearly at 3-6V across e-liquids and clearomizer brands. Acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde generation increased markedly at voltages at or above 5V.


The vaping machine that we describe reproducibly aerosolizes e-liquids from e-cigarette atomizers under controlled conditions and is useful for testing of nicotine and toxicant delivery.


This study describes an electronic cigarette vaping machine that was assembled from commercially available parts. The vaping machine can be replicated by researchers and used under standard conditions to generate e-cigarette aerosols and characterize nicotine and toxicant delivery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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