Incubator Working Principle

Incubator Working Principle

Incubators are used in biological laboratories to grow and maintain bacterial and eukaryotic cells. They create an environment suitable for the growth of microorganisms by providing optimum temperature, humidity, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.

An incubator is an insulated cuboidal cabinet with a capacity of 20 to 800L. Insulation prevents heat loss and reduces electric consumption, ensuring its smooth operation.


An incubator is an insulated box equipped with a thermostat which maintains the desired condition inside the chamber. It is an essential tool in biological laboratories for growth and development of different cell or microbial cultures.

It also provides an environment for the hatching of eggs in zoology and medical laboratories. Similarly, it helps to store biological specimens before analysis in veterinary and biochemical studies.

The temperature of the incubator can be controlled by a thermostat which is set by the user. Once the temperature is reached, it remains unchanged until the thermostat changes it again.

Incubators are used for growing bacteria, fungi, yeast, and other microorganisms under specific conditions and gases. They can only be used with certain microorganisms and require careful maintenance.

An external thermometer is placed on the outer wall of an incubator. One end of the thermometer is gradated, making it easy to read.


The amount of moisture that a pocket of air can hold at a particular temperature is called the relative humidity. Relative humidity is measured with a hygrometer.

Humidity is a critical factor for the development of eggs, especially incubating chicks. It ensures that the membrane of the egg shrinks at just the right speed, so that the chick can hatch properly.

A hygrometer is often used to measure the humidity inside an incubator. There are many different types, some with internal sensors and others with external sensors.

A hygrometer should be regularly checked and recalibrated. In the case of an electronic hygrometer, it’s important to verify that it is accurate before using it to measure the humidity.


Biological oxygen demand (BOD) incubation testing is an essential part of many laboratory applications. APHA-compliant BOD incubators feature a mechanical convection system for even distribution of air, overload security systems, temperature control controllers and safe operation high and low limit controls.

During incubation, the embryo requires constant supply of oxygen and elimination of carbon dioxide to grow and develop properly. As the eggs age, the amount of fresh air they need increases.

Therefore, the oxygen content of the incubator is a vital aspect of incubation systems and must be kept at a constant level in order to prevent possible contamination. This is particularly important when the incubator is used for newborn babies.

For this reason, it is necessary to determine the oxygen concentration inside the incubator independently from the oxygen rate inside the baby’s blood by means of an automatic control device. This allows for a constant oxygen flow into the incubator without transient adjustments, which is often necessary when using the conventional manual systems.

Carbon Dioxide

CO2 is used in incubators to maintain the pH inside the incubator and to allow cell growth. This is done by reacting with water to produce carbonic acid and bicarbonate ions.

A 5% level of CO2 in an incubator at 90-95% humidity provides a pH neutral environment that is best for cell culture growth. However, this concentration is much higher than ambient air and can be dangerous if not maintained properly.

To keep a consistent CO2 level in the incubator, sensors are required. These sensors can be in the form of thermal conductivity (TC) or infrared (IR) sensors, depending on the desired sensor performance and accuracy.

Labs and clinics need to monitor their gas levels in their incubators regularly to ensure they are within tight tolerances office power. These readings must be precise and accurate, which can be challenging with the available sensing technologies.

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