Is life possible without oxygen?
While many science fiction films have spread the idea that oxygen is an essential precondition for life in general, even on our planet there are organisms that do not need oxygen or for which it is even lethal!
The characteristic of these organisms is called "anaerobiosis" (from the Greek aero and bios, therefore "life without air") and the anaerobic chamber is the tool that modern scientists use to study them.
What is the Anaerobic Chamber
The anaerobic chamber is an isolated environment designed to drastically reduce or even completely eliminate the oxygen levels present within it. In addition to oxygen, inside the anaerobic chamber it is usually possible to monitor and regulate other environmental parameters such as temperature and relative humidity.
How an Anaerobic Chamber is Made
There are different models of anaerobic chamber but some characteristics are common to all.
First, the inside of the chamber must be hermetically sealed from the outside for obvious reasons. For this reason, to manipulate the samples introduced inside, anaerobic chambers often have doors with gloves that allow operators to intervene on bacterial cultures.
Other essential elements of the chamber are the control of the internal atmosphere and oxygen.
The oxygen-free environment is in fact obtained by filling the space with some inert gases, usually nitrogen or argon.
The anaerobic chambers are also equipped with monitoring systems that constantly check both the presence of oxygen inside and other environmental parameters such as temperature and relative humidity, in order to guarantee the precision and reliability of the test.
What are Anaerobic Chambers used for?
Anaerobic chambers find application in various scientific fields but above all in medical and pharmacological research because they constitute the ideal environment for cultivating and studying some species of anaerobic bacteria, organisms that thrive in the absence of oxygen.
A more in-depth analysis of this fascinating type of organisms can be found here.
In the chemical industry, however, they are used for the handling of oxygen-sensitive chemicals and in the production of materials that require an oxygen-free environment to maintain their integrity.
Non Anaerobic Growth Chambers
Despite their fundamental importance in the study of anaerobic organisms, anaerobic chambers are only one type of a larger class of laboratory instruments called growth chambers.
Growth chambers are defined as all those laboratory instruments suitable for the cultivation of microorganisms and plants. All growth chambers implement systems for regulating environmental parameters, including temperature and relative humidity. The anaerobic chamber, we have seen, also has oxygen regulation systems while more traditional growth chambers are equipped with technologically advanced lighting systems that simulate sunlight.
The FDM Growth Chamber
For over 70 years FDM - Environmental Makers has been designing laboratory instruments capable of simulating the most varied environmental conditions in the context of climate tests.
Our growth chambers reproduce the ideal environment for the growth of aerobic organisms such as bacterial and plant cultures. We also build customized growth chambers as we did for the University of Turin. You can read this story here.
For further doubts and questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.