Incubators provide a controlled contamination-free environment for safe, reliable work for research purposes. Most incubator units are water-jacketed and air-jacketed or use direct heat to maintain temperature. In size they can vary from tabletop appliances to freezer-like dimensions. There are two basic types of incubator: gassed incubators with carbon dioxide or non-gassed or microbiological incubators. The former ensure control over temperature, pH levels and humidity, all of which affect growth. The temperature averages thirty seven degrees centigrade, relative humidity is 95% and the carbon dioxide is 5%. Microbiological incubators are temperature-controlled ovens and work between five to seventy degrees centigrade for growing and storing purposes. The highly specialised refrigerated biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) incubator can reach temperatures of forty five degrees centigrade below zero. There are also dry bath incubators with single or dual blocks. To reduce the risk of aerial contamination, some types contain a high-temperature decontamination cycle or filtration. Many also contain integrated, interactive touch screen displays. Generally incubators are used in cell culture, biochemical studies, haematological studies, pharmaceuticals and food processing. Gassed incubators are more suitable for growing cell culture while non-gassed incubators are ideal for growing and storing bacterial cultures. Cell aeration and solubility studies make use of shaking incubators.

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