Carbon Dioxide Incubators

Incubators are designed to maintain isolated space under specific environmental conditions for the growth of biological specimens. These instruments have a range of complexity, offering differing levels of control over a microenvironment.

Carbon dioxide incubators are typically used in cell-culture applications where an environment that simulates physiological conditions is highly desirable. Studies have shown that cells grown in hypoxic conditions are more robust than those grown in atmospheric conditions. Also, cell cultures raised in low-oxygen environments grow faster, stay alive longer and show less signs of stress. Thus, researchers utilizing cell-culture techniques seek to accurately control the concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide in their incubators.

Thermo Fisher Scientific provides a range of air- and water-insulated carbon dioxide incubators that are customizable. The Thermo Scientific Heracell VIOS 160i series of air-insulated carbon dioxide incubators can be configured with a copper interior for improved bacterial and fungal growth resistance, oxygen control in addition to carbon dioxide control, and either thermal conductivity or IR carbon dioxide sensors. The Heracell VIOS 160i, among other models, also has the ability to perform self-contained heat sterilization.

Eppendorf, through its New Brunswick brand, provides carbon dioxide incubators featuring fanless insulation. On standard air- or water-insulated systems, a fan is required to distribute chamber conditions evenly. The fan may become a source of contamination if it is not properly cleaned and cared for. The Galaxy line features a fanless direct-heat system that takes advantage of thermodynamic convection to provide even heating throughout the chamber. The Galaxy can be configured with many of the options that Thermo Scientific offers. For nonadherent cell-culture applications, Eppendorf offers the New Brunswick S41i, a fanless carbon dioxide incubator with an integrated shaker.

For researchers concerned with maintaining a hypoxic environment for their cultures during all stages of an experiment, Essen BioScience offers the IncuCyte ZOOM cell imager, a microscope gantry that can be fitted within a standard carbon dioxide incubator. The IncuCyte ZOOM is able to provide remote high-definition phase-contrast, green-fluorescence or red-fluorescence images from within an incubator for up to six microtiter plates or a configurable number of T-flasks.

The carbon dioxide incubator market comprises just over half of the total incubator market, with annual revenues of around $125 million. Market growth is projected to be slow, as the technology has matured. However, existing users may upgrade their units as demand for automation and traceability increases. In response, manufacturers have made the integrated controls on carbon dioxide incubators more powerful and user friendly, with features such as touch screens.

Carbon Dioxide Incubators at a Glance:

Leading Suppliers

• Thermo Fisher Scientific

• Eppendorf

• Panasonic Healthcare

Largest Markets

• Biotechnology

• Academia

• Pharmaceutical

Instrument Cost

• $2,000–$19,000

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