The incubators are laboratory equipment that is used to maintain and grow microbiological cultures or cell cultures, regulating viable growth factors such as temperature, humidity and ventilation.
There are incubators that have the ability to control extremely low temperatures (microbiological incubators), humidity, and carbon dioxide levels (incubators for cell cultures). Microbiological incubators are mainly used in the growth and storage of bacterial cultures at temperatures between 5 and 37 ºC. For their part, the incubators for cell culture work at a temperature of 37 ºC, simulating the conditions of body temperature.
Laboratory incubators are widely used for biology applications, such as for cell and tissue culture, for pharmaceutical and hematological studies, for biochemical studies, food processing and cell aeration, it is also used for animal studies, solubility studies and fermentation as well as for bacteria cultures.
Incubators are widely used for the study of tissue cultures that involve the extraction of fragments of animal or plant tissue and to store these “explants” (for example cells isolated from a portion of tissues) in controlled environments (temperature, pH, CO2 and humidity) and subsequently analyze its growth.
The main objective of CO2 incubators is to simulate the physiological conditions of mammals, unfortunately, the environments created within these equipment are also ideal for the proliferation of certain biological contaminants.
Uses and operation of this equipment
As mentioned above, developing and maintaining microbiological and cell cultures is possible in laboratories thanks to the presence of incubators, which not only control the temperature and humidity of the environment in which the samples are stored, but are also capable of controlling Co2. and oxygen present. The most common uses for these kits are experimental work in cell biology, microbiology, and molecular biology. Bacteria such as Escherichia coli, yeast or human cells can be kept and grown in the incubator. This is possible thanks to its temperature variation, which can range from 5 ° C to 100 ° C in some more advanced equipment.
Other important uses for incubators are stem cell studies, incubation of antibodies in tissues, diagnosis of harmful pathogens such as bacteria and germs, as well as pharmaceutical and hematological investigations.
The basic operating modes of an incubator are generally natural convection, where the air flow is generated by a difference in temperature, and forced convection, in which external equipment such as a cooling fan or pump is used to create a air stream.
You must take into account there is a great variety of incubators, depending on the use that you want to give it. In the laboratory, the most used are the dry incubator, which simulates temperatures that allow the development or maintenance of cells, the Co2 wet incubator, ideal for samples such as petri dishes or microplates, and the thermo-shaker incubator, which also shakes The samples uniformly, obtaining a homogeneous mixture during the incubation process. The minimum care for these incubation equipment and that will make its useful life longer, are to implement a current controller, to avoid unexpected cuts in the electrical supply, take care of the spillage of corrosive substances that damage the equipment and always regulate the temperature to prevent overheating.
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