Direct Heat CO2 Incubator

Optimized cell growth through advanced design and technology

Achieve complete contamination control and dependable long-term performance by choosing a direct heat CO2 incubator—a favorite among researchers. Direct heat incubators provide easy cleaning with high temperature sterilization cycles. Additionally, the chamber is designed to provide precise, reliable, and tight uniformity.

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Choose a direct heat CO2 incubator by interior configuration

Efficient high-performance heaters located on every chamber surface provide temperature distribution throughout the entire chamber. Begin your selection with the following configurations.

Our CO2 incubators are built with high-quality, durable 304 stainless steel chambers and interior components.

  • High resistance to corrosion
  • Sturdy adjustable shelves, easily removed without tools
  • Electropolished stainless steel in selected models for improved finish and resistance

Stainless steel models

More cell culture professionals are choosing CO2 incubators with 100% pure copper interiors.

  • Naturally easy-to-clean, no special handling required
  • Copper surfaces provide long service life and are safe for cultured cells
  • Durability, reliability, and recyclability make copper a smart, sustainable choice

100% pure copper models

Many cell types thrive in oxygen controlled environments which mimic their in vivo state.

  • Achieve increased biological relevance by simulating more predictive in vivo physiological conditions
  • Stem and primary cells generally grow faster, live longer, and show less stress
  • Better simulation of tumor micro environments in cancer research

Tri-gas models

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Choose a large capacity CO2 incubator for high-throughput
and critical applications

  • Choice of extended capacity of 240 L and greater
  • Conveniently stackable models to optimize space
  • Space to accommodate shakers, stirrers, or culture devices for large sample throughput
  • Convenient external humidity reservoir and active rH control, ideal for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) applications

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Key features to help you achieve your next discovery

Based on 60 years of engineering and design breakthroughs, our expertise is represented in key features that span our portfolio. Together these enhancements provide optimal cell growth, valuable contamination control technologies, and advanced design for highly critical applications, plus simplicity which allows you to spend more time pursuing your goals.

On-demand high temperature sterilization cycles for easy cleaning.

  • Our designs are independently tested to meet US and EU pharmacopeia standards
  • Automatically radiates heat uniformly to all interior surfaces and quickly returns to selected operating conditions
  • Simplifies cleaning without the need for autoclaving and eliminates variability in manual cleaning
  • Independent third-party tests prove elimination of biological contaminants including fungi, spores, mycoplasma, and other bacteria
  • Avoids physical constraints of UV germicidal lamps and ongoing costs, handling and storage of potentially toxic germicides
  Thermo Scientific ContraCon Sterilization Cycle 140°C Sterilization Cycle Thermo Scientific Steri-Run Sterilization Cycle
Temperature type 90°C moist heat cycle 140°C dry heat cycle 180°C dry heat cycle
Description Push button simplicity without removal of sensors and components. Overnight sterilization cycle with extended time at 140°C to achieve sterilization. The new standard, an overnight cycle that reaches 180°C on all chamber surfaces.
Duration of sterilization cycle 24–25 hours  14 hours 12 hours
Sterility assurance level (SAL) 6 log 12 log 12 log
Independent validation


  Learn more:
 ContraCon Eliminates Contamination ›
Learn more:
 Effective Heat Sterilization in CO2 Incubators ›
Learn more:
 Steri-Run Sterilization Cycle Proves Total Sterilization ›

Thermo Scientific CO2 incubators feature fan-assisted airflow circulation for fast recovery and tight uniformity. Our airflow patterns are specifically designed for homogeneous distribution of critical environmental conditions (temperature, gas exchange, and humidity). The in-chamber fan gently distributes the conditioned, humidified air throughout the chamber, ensuring all cells—regardless of location—experience the same conditions without risk of desiccation.1

  • Temperature uniformity specifications are validated according to the DIN 12880 standard, which requires 27 individual measurements at specific locations in the chamber.
  • Sensors and probes are positioned directly in the incubator chamber to ensure they measure the exact environment experienced by your cells.
  • A secondary temperature probe acts as an alarm to the primary sensor, providing peace of mind for you and extra security for your cells.

See THRIVE active airflow in action

Thermo Scientific THRIVE active airflow, included on our Heracell VIOS 160i and 250i and Forma Steri-Cycle i160 and i250 CO2 incubators, provides total recovery of critical growth parameters in 10 minutes or less following a 30-second door opening.1

  • The variable-speed fan precisely controls the airflow to provide leading-edge recovery.
  • The air stream first travels over the direct-heated covered, integrated water reservoir, which results in 50% faster humidity recovery than a standard water pan design.
  • The in-line HEPA filter cleans the airstream of all sizes of particles and microorganisms, protecting cultures from contamination.
  • The air then passes over the in-chamber sensors, which react and condition the air before gently circulating it among the cultures.

1 Based on internal standards for 30-second door opening, recovery calculated to 98% of starting value for temperature and CO2 , and 95% of starting value of humidity.

Because the goal is to mimic in vivo conditions, all incubator sensors are positioned directly in the incubation chamber to ensure they measure the exact environment experienced by your cells. This design requires more robust sensor construction but means the sensors are designed to react immediately to correct temperature and atmosphere variations as they occur. We offer two different CO2 sensor technologies.

Thermal conductivity (TC) CO2 sensor

  • Our most commonly requested CO2 sensor due to its reliability and longevity of operation
  • Measures electrical resistance according to thermal conductivity of gas passing over the sensor
  • Low maintenance, stable, and long life because it has no consuming element such as an incandescent bulb
  • High temperature resistance—does not need to be removed during sterilization cycles
  • NEW TC180 CO2 sensor incorporates humidity compensation for enhanced stability and recovery (available in the Heracell VIOS and Forma Steri-Cycle CO2 incubators)

Infrared (IR) CO2 sensor

  • Ideal for sensitive applications and remote monitoring or when frequent access to incubator is required
  • Determines the CO2 concentration based on its IR light absorption at the characteristic wavelength of 4.3 µm
  • Operates independent of humidity and temperature
  • NEW IR180Si replaces the traditional incandescent IR light source with silicone MEMS emitter technology for improved stability and service life (available in the Heracell VIOS and Forma Steri-Cycle CO2 incubators)

Added culturing flexibility with variable oxygen control (tri-gas)
Increase biological relevance by simulating physiological conditions, resulting in cell behaviors that are more predictive of an in vivo environment.

  • Choice of 1–21% and 5–90% O2 ranges
  • Simulate hypoxic (1–21%) environments for primary cell, stem cell, and embryo research applications
  • Achieve better simulation of tumor microenviroments with low oxygen culturing
  • Simulate hyperoxic (5–90%) conditions for research in lung, retina, and other sensitive tissues
Featured resource

Five reasons to enhance your cell culture using a Thermo Scientific CO2 incubator with variable oxygen control

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A selection of humidity reservoir designs are available to enhance performance and workflows. Our unique integrated solutions are directly heated to facilitate high relative humidity (rH) levels and faster recovery. An external humidity reservoir simplifies maintenance by allowing water refill without disrupting culturing. Full active rH parameter control is ideal for applications requiring flexibility and precise monitoring of humidity levels.

  Water pan Integrated water reservoir Covered integrated water reservoir External humidity reservoir
 
Description Traditional removable humidity pan Large directly heated panless reservoir provides high rH levels and fast recovery Protected, directly heated integrated water pan provides high rH levels with leading recovery and easy filling and draining Active humidity control with an external reservoir for easy replenishment of water
Volume 3L 3L (4.5L for large capacity models) 3L 3L
Water level monitoring   Yes, low level alarm Yes, visual monitoring and low level alarm Yes, visual monitoring and low level alarm
Popular models Forma Direct Heat and Steri-Cycle; Forma Series 2 and Series 3 Water Jacketed; Midi 40

Heracell 150i and 240i

Heracell VIOS 160i and 250i; Forma Steri-cycle i160 and i250

Forma Steri-cult; BBD 6220

iCAN touchscreen interface

The intelligent Thermo Scientific iCAN touchscreen interface is designed to simplify your interactions with the CO2 incubator. The bright LED screen provides at-a-glance monitoring even from across the lab. Enjoy complete data visibility and performance trend graphing, in multiple languages. Store data and usage logs onboard or download.

  • Door mounted position for easy access
  • Configurable settings and options
  • Audio and visual alarms
  • On-screen menu prompts
  • Error and usage logs
  • Data logging and performance trend graphing
  • Multiple language selection

Enviro-Scan interface

The Thermo Scientific Enviro-Scan LED membrane display lets you easily monitor temperature, CO2, and rH (optional) operating parameters via the bright display. The alphanumeric message center provides process and alarm status.

  • Configurable settings and options
  • Audio and visual alarms
  • On-screen menu prompts

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Stay on the leading edge of stem cell research


CO2 incubator selector tool

With so many choices, which Thermo Scientific CO2 incubator should you choose? Based on your cell culture applications, needs, or preferences, our selector can help you decide on the best incubator for your lab.

Go to selector tool

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