Heracell CO2 Incubators

Designed to achieve your next breakthrough, Thermo Scientific Heracell CO2 incubators provide a holistic approach to culturing. By combining our technology advancements in contamination control and uniform growth conditions with proven and reliable features, you can achieve your goals faster, more reliably, and with less effort.

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Choose your Heracell CO2 incubator

  Heracell 150i Heracell 240i Heracell VIOS 160i Heracell VIOS 250i
  Heracell 150i co2 incubator Heracell 240i co2 incubator Heracell vios 160i co2 incubator Heracell vios 250i co2 incubator
Description Combines optimal culturing conditions with simplicity and reliability Offers more capacity with optimal culturing conditions Advanced incubator design for high value cells Advanced large capacity for high value cells and high throughput labs
Capacity 150L (5.3 cu. ft.)  240L (8.4 cu. ft.) 165L (5.8 cu. ft.) 255L (9.0 cu. ft.)
Chamber type Direct heat Direct heat Direct heat Direct heat
Door swing Left hinged Left hinged Left hinged Left hinged
Choose interior configuration

Stainless steel ›
100% copper ›
Tri-gas ›

Stainless steel ›
100% copper ›
Tri-gas ›

Stainless steel ›
100% copper ›
Tri-gas ›
Cell locker ›

Stainless steel ›
100% copper ›
Sterilization ContraCon (90°C) ContraCon (90°C) Steri-Run (180°C) Steri-Run (180°C)
HEPA filtration N/A N/A ISO Class 5 in 5 min ISO Class 5 in 5 min
Airflow technology Fan assisted Fan assisted THRIVE THRIVE
CO2 sensors TC or IR TC or IR TC180 or IR180Si TC180 or IR180Si
O2 control Optional 1-21%
or 5-90%
Optional 1-21%
or 5-90%
Optional 1-21%
or 5-90%
Optional 1-21%
or 5-90%
Humidity Integrated water reservoir Integrated water reservoir Covered integrated reservoir with easy draining Covered integrated reservoir with easy draining
User interface iCAN touchscreen iCAN touchscreen iCAN touchscreen iCAN touchscreen


Direct heat CO2 incubators

Efficient high-performance heaters located on every chamber surface provide even temperature distribution throughout the entire chamber. Choose the lightweight convenience of direct-heat technology with available high-temperature sterilization for easy cleaning.

All direct heat models


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 U.S. 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 on-going 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 ›

HEPA air filtration designed for air purity in-chamber.

  • HEPA continuously filters the entire chamber every 60 seconds
  • Protects cultures against airborne contaminants
  • Achieves cleanroom quality ISO Class 5 (Class 100) air within 5 minutes of routine door opening

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

THRIVE active airflow
  • 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 microenvironments 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

Learn more

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.

heracell vios co2 incubator
  • 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

iCAN touchscreen

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


Our exclusive Thermo Scientific Steri-Run high temperature sterilization cycle

  • Fully automatic cycle reaches 180°C on all chamber surfaces
  • Proven to achieve total, uniform sterilization and a 12 log Sterility Assurance Level (SAL)
  • A simple overnight routine provides fast, easy elimination of microbial contaminants, eliminating the need for separate autoclaving of parts
  • Independent third party tests prove elimination of biological contaminants including fungal mold, vegetative and spore forms of bacteria, including mycoplasma


CO2 incubator selector tool

CO2 incubator selector app

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

CO2 incubator family brochure

See the full portfolio of Thermo Scientific CO2 incubators and discover why more scientists trust us with their valuable cultures.

Download brochure


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Technical notes

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