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What Are Carbon Dioxide Incubators?

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  • Written By: Jordan Weagly
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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Carbon dioxide incubators are usually contained storage areas, much like refrigerators, that control specific environmental elements. Perhaps most commonly associated with laboratory experiments, carbon dioxide incubators may be used to support tissue culture manufacturing, mammalian environment replication, and cell culture manufacturing. These applications for incubators demand specific environmental factors such as humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels. One of the main identifying features of this type of incubator is its ability to control and maintain carbon dioxide levels specific to an application.

Carbon dioxide incubators can play an important role in scientific research, so they are often considered necessary for scientific laboratories. Controlling the temperature, the humidity, and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide is often necessary for creating successful cell cultures. Controlling carbon dioxide can be a major factor in the success of an experiment, especially when research focuses on an area requiring a mammalian environment, because cell cultures usually require specific environments. Needs can vary between incubator applications, which means there are various designs for incubators available.

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For instance, some carbon dioxide incubators might have different systems of monitoring and regulating carbon dioxide levels. Some incubators might include a system of thermal conduction in which the levels of carbon dioxide determine the resistance between two electrical nodes, and that information might be used to maintain the desired level of carbon dioxide. Other incubators might monitor carbon dioxide levels via an infrared system that takes some air from the chamber and measures a variety of factors with an optical sensor. Both designs have their benefits, but infrared systems might be more accurate.

Other potential features might include temperature controls using natural convection, fans or water. Some incubators might have copper shelves and interior linings to prevent contamination, while others might have stainless steel shelves with a minimized surface area to reduce the potential environment for contaminants. The variety of applications for carbon dioxide incubators matches the variety of applications for such incubators. Some features will perhaps support one type of experiment while providing more options than necessary for another.

One feature that is almost always important for a carbon dioxide incubator is contamination management. Preventing contaminant growth inside the incubator space might be managed by surface area adjustments, materials used or an automatic decontamination cycle. Decontamination and contaminant management can be an important feature for carbon dioxide incubators and can be crucial for successful laboratory use and other applications.

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