CO2 incubators are key equipment for biological and medical laboratories. They enable the necessary environmental control and isolate cell cultures from external conditions and contamination. Control focuses on three major factors:
Normal temperature for the human body, 37 degrees Celsius, is an optimum temperature to grow most cell cultures. Cells must stay within a narrow temperature range — plus or minus a few tenths of a degree — to avoid conditions that threaten the viability of the cell culture or create a significant delay in growth and impact on schedules.
Inadequate relative humidity (RH) within the growth chamber prevents causes medium desiccation. Minimum RH can be as low as 75 to 80 percent. More commonly, RH must remain above 90 percent.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Cells require environments within a specific pH range, often 7.0 to 7.7, for optimal growth. Growth medium includes a pH buffer, often CO2-bicarbonate based, to aid in maintaining stable pH levels. Atmospheric CO2 interacts with humidity to create carbonic acid which can raise growth medium pH. Control of atmospheric CO2 helps maintain steady growth medium pH.
Temperature Control Technologies
Two main technologies for temperature control — direct heat and water jacket — each offer advantages for specific operations and conditions. This paper focuses on choosing the type of temperature control for CO2 incubators.