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Heating Mode of Water-Jacketed and Air-Jacketed CO2 Incubator

   |  December 15, 2022

As an indispensable tool in cell culture, the carbon dioxide (CO2) incubator is widely used in cell biology, oncology, genetics, immunology, virology, genetic engineering research, and other fields.

Cell culture is a crucial step in the in-vitro experiments and a CO2 incubator could provide cells with a stable temperature (generally 37°C for mammalian cells) and maintain a specific CO2 concentration level (generally 5%) and high relative humidity. In this way, the growth environment of cells/tissues in the organism can be simulated in the incubator.

In the process of cell culture, the impact on the growth state of the sample can be greatly reduced in a environment with constant temperature. There are two main heating modes for maintaining constant temperature in the incubator: air-jacketed heating and water-jacketed heating.

Water-jacketed CO2 incubator

The water-jacketed incubator keeps the temperature constant as the heated water in the incubator walls provides a stable temperature throughout the incubator. Hot water circulates in the incubator compartment through natural convection to conduct heat and maintain a constant temperature.

As a good heat insulation material, water can keep the temperature in the incubator stable for a long time when the instrument is powered off. The time to keep the temperature constant is even 4~5 times that of the air-jacketed incubator.

Although the heat preservation effect of the water-jacketed incubator is good, the water-jacketed heating requires a series of special operations on the water tank, such as regular water addition and cleaning and disinfection maintenance. If the operation is improper, it is easy to cause cell pollution. Generally, the water-jacketed incubators on the market are not equipped with a high-temperature sterilization system, so the pollution risk is high.

Air-jacketed CO2 incubator

The air-jacketed incubator relies on heaters that directly heat the air throughout the incubator to provide a uniform temperature. Its structure is simpler than the water-jacketed incubator, and the heating mode is also known as six-sided direct heating. Most of the incubators on the market are designed with two doors, commonly known as the inner door and the outer door. If the air-jacketed heating mode is adopted, the heating wire on the outer door can heat the inner door to avoid the generation of condensate due to the temperature difference caused by the frequent door opening and closing, thus reducing pollution.

In addition, the incubator with this heating mode is often equipped with a high-temperature sterilization system to avoid the operation of adding water to the water tank regularly. Compared with the water-jacketed incubator, the air-jacketed incubator has a faster temperature circulation speed, and can quickly recover the temperature in the incubator to the target value in case of temperature fluctuations caused by frequent door opening and closing.


Heating ModeHeating SpeedTemperature Recovery SpeedOperation ComplexityHeat Insulation PerformanceSterilization Mode
Water jacketSlowSlowRegular maintenance of heating water tankStrongNo powerful sterilization system
Air jacketFastFastNo maintenance requiredWeakAvailable high-temperature dry heating system

On the premise of stable power supply in the laboratory, we recommend users purchase the RWD air-jacketed CO2 incubator D180, especially when the same incubator is shared by many people or frequently opened and closed due to experimental needs, the air-jacketed CO2 incubator has better temperature stability. If it is equipped with a high-temperature dry heating sterilization system, the incubator can be sterilized regularly to maintain a clean culture environment.

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