LABORATORY INCUBATORS, USES AND OPERATION
Laboratory incubators can be designed for applications where parameters such as temperature, biological oxygen demand (BOD) or atmospheric conditions can be controlled, these parameters are in accordance with the applications that are intended to be carried out in the laboratory, their simplicity or complexity depends on this. in the manufacture of the incubator. When it is required to control temperature below that of the environment, they are provided with a refrigeration system to reach the required temperature levels, incubators can be found with temperature ranges that can go from -10ºC to 75ºC. Some are designed to control the atmospheric environment, these incubators supply CO2 (Carbon Dioxide).
The incubators have one or several electrical resistances that can be operated by means of microprocessor controls provided with temperature sensors, another common option is thermostats. Each incubator manufacturer develops its own controls according to the demands or applications that are going to be developed in the laboratory. Regarding the transfer of heat in the internal chamber of the incubator, natural or forced convection systems are used, these are the most usual.
Natural convection: It is the movement of the fluid (heat) by natural causes, such as the buoyancy effect, where the hot fluid goes up and the cold fluid goes down.
Forced convection: The fluid (heat) is forced by external means such as fans or turbines to circulate in the internal chamber inside the equipment.
In any of these transfer systems, the resistance that produces the heat is located in the lower part of the incubator and the hot air circulates upwards, transferring the temperature to the samples that are inside the chamber and exits through a vent located on top of it. Homogeneity inside the chamber depends on the convection system applied to the incubator.
For a correct operation of the equipment, it is necessary to comply with some basic aspects such as:
- Use an electrical network that complies with the standards applicable to each country, in our case, Colombia, with a power outlet that can vary according to the model and design of the incubator, this can be 11o v/50Hz or 220v/ 50-60Hz, with its respective ground pole.
- Have adequate space where the incubator will be installed, taking into account its size and weight. This space must be free on all sides of the equipment for good air circulation; the resistance of the incubator support or table must withstand the weight of the incubator.
- The place where the incubator is located must not suffer sudden changes in temperature that may affect its proper functioning.
Recommendations for use:
Some basic recommendations that must be taken into account when operating the incubator are described below. It is advisable to follow the safety and operability standards that the laboratory has implemented according to its procedures.
- Do not use the incubator near sources of heat, water or flammable substances that can cause electric shocks or explosions.
- Avoid the spillage of acidic substances that can affect the incubator and much less inside, as these can reach the electrical parts and cause irreparable damage or electric shocks.
- Avoid incubating substances that produce toxic vapors that are harmful to health and the environment.
- Wear the necessary protective clothing such as goggles, gloves, bib, etc.
- Control the operating temperature of the incubator by means of a certified external thermometer.
Cleaning routines must always be carried out with the equipment turned off, disconnected from the electrical network and its internal chamber is at room temperature.
- Use non-abrasive cleaning products, they should only be used for easily accessible areas both inside and outside the incubator.
- Avoid contact or spillage of these products with electrical parts.
- Make use of suitable cleaning and disinfection products in the event of the presence of contaminating agents that put health and the environment at risk.
An incubator installed and operated correctly almost never requires corrective maintenance, if required, you should contact the specialized technical service, they will inform you of the necessary corrective measures to take.
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