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Designing big pharma incubator to within 0.1 oC

Courtesy of AMS Technologies, AG

Incubators play a vital role in both clinical and non-clinical environments, especially when working with human material such as IVF, stem cells, regenerative tissue processes or autologous cell culture. When performing these critical tasks, the incubator units must hold a constant temperature, even if someone opens an incubator door.

At one giant EU pharmaceutical company, AMS engineers were enlisted to create an incubator environment that would ensure a uniform temperature distribution around all reagents of +/- 0.1 oC. The incubator was the size of a home refrigerator and sat in an ambient that could vary as much as 15 oC. While the incubator was cooled by a thermoelectric air conditioner, the electronic controls and motors for reagents-handling added a heat load that raised the temperature.

In the original design, circulating cooled air from the TEC unit created several degrees centigrade temperature difference among the reagents. That was unacceptably high. When AMS engineers analyzed the design, they found that the temperature gradients were caused primarily by the air inlets and outlets around the chamber.

Using Coolit CFD software, AMS engineers completely redesigned the chamber to create a uniform air curtain surrounding the reagents. The air grill geometry and insulation around the electronics were also optimized. Once the design was completed, the customer performed physical testing and confirmed that AMS had achieved the goal and the new design was holding temperatures to within +/-0.1 oC.

An air curtain envelopes the reagents and acts as a shield from electronics and ambient heat loads.

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