Darwin Chambers Company

Insect Rearing Rooms

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Standard walk-in incubators or coolers used in the rearing of drosophila and other biological organisms often end up being problematics for a number of reasons. The acids inherent in the rearing of many specimens or their food can quickly corrode a standard refrigeration evaporator. 

High humidity exacerbates the issue, as droplets of concentrated acid will collect on the cooling components. Other companies use an evaporator that can have thousands of square inches of vulnerable evaporator surface, where one very small refrigerant leak will require expensive repair—that may include many other components of the refrigeration system, other than the evaporator itself, due to compromised oil (modern refrigeration oils are very hygroscopic) in the system. Anyone familiar with Drosophila storage, for example, will understand that the propionic acid present in the chamber can render a new, conventional incubator useless in as little as 6 months.  

Obviously, the above scenario is a primary concern to any researcher, but there are many other issues to be concerned about. Because most types of incubators are produced for a very wide audience, many of the details are not ideally suited for the needs of the insect researcher. Details that are often overlooked include:  ability to shut down all heat or cold producing equipment in the event of a malfunction, ability to decontaminate the chamber with high heat, noise levels, ease of programming, overall reliability in a corrosive atmosphere, and many others.  Most refrigerated incubators on the market today are based on the exact same technology used in refrigerators for decades, but the truth is, much biological research is never done at temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius, so it stands to reason that the ability to go below that temperature may indeed be more liability than benefit.  

Darwin Chambers answer for researchers looking for the ideal chamber is a multi-fold approach:

  1. Epoxy coated air handlers. This coating seems to be the most resistant against long term corrosion.
  2. Running the rooms without refrigerant in the room. After almost a decade after turning our back on straight refrigerant in mild heat load applications, we are glad we did. Our PFTCU works out very well in insect rearing rooms. Low pressures, ease of repair, and reliability are just some of the reasons. You can read about the rest here.
  3. We utilize ultrasonic humidification. It's precise. Very little heat is generated = smaller compressor = lower energy usage. A good benefit is extremely good temperature uniformity as well.

Standard controllers are non-proprietary and are exceptionally accurate and reliable. Setpoints and alarms are easy to set with a small amount of instruction.  Diurnal ramping/soaking/cycling of temperatures is standard. 

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