Incubators Aid in Zika Research and Vaccination

Every four years, the most elite athletes from across the globe compete on the world stage in the ultimate showcase of prowess and athleticism at the Summer Olympic Games. This month, over 10,000 men and women 2016_Summer_Olympics_logorepresenting over 200 nations are competing in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, with an expectant half a million foreign visitors watching the action from the stands.

Along with the typical security concerns any big event conjures, organizers are also facing a potential health crisis that could affect attendance at the Rio Olympics amongst athletes and spectators. The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease, has dominated the headlines in recent months.

The virus, which was first seen in humans in 1952, has seen pockets of outbreaks throughout the decades, including Brazil in 2015. Increased levels of microcephaly and other neurological disorders amongst newborns whose mothers were infected prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) to issue a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on the matter. The alert has since been raised to Level 1 activation, the CDC’s strongest response level, as the virus has spread to nearly 60 countries/territories.

Though the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release earlier this summer stating that “cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus,” fears are still rampant that the Olympics and other international cross-contamination will lead to a pandemic, particularly if safety precautions aren’t utilized by all affected travelers.

Public health officials are urging Olympic goers to protect themselves from mosquitos as most Zika infections are transferred this way. While pregnant and breastfeeding women should be hyper-vigilant in avoiding contact with mosquitos, especially in areas with confirmed Zika cases, it’s imperative that everyone exercises prudence. Although not confirmed, the Zika virus is also suspected of a rising number of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) cases, a rare condition where a person’s immune system attacks their nerve cells leading to muscle damage and, in some instances, paralysis.

There is currently no vaccine or other treatment for the Zika virus. Currently, containment is the short-term approach for counteracting the spread of the virus while institutions such as the WHO is ramping up research funding and methods. The organization has given approval for experimental measures that include “microbial control, using Wolbachia bacteria, of human pathogens in adult mosquitoes, and the use of genetic manipulation to reduce mosquito populations.”

Model I-36VL

Model I-36VL

This is where Percival Scientific’s incubators can be beneficial in researching the methods described above as well as testing additional tools when permitted. Our I-36VL and I-41VL models were specifically designed for applications such as drosophila, culturing, rearing and the holding of test organisms, including mosquitos. A number of university research labs across the country are using the I-36VL and I-41VL to conduct research specifically on the Zika virus. The incubators also employ the following features:

Lighting Systems

  • Vertically-mounted fluorescent lamps
  • Intensity programmable up to 80 μmoles /m2/s of irradiance measured at 6” from lamps on 1 on/off light event
  • IntellusUltra real-time controlled with optional mobile access


  • Five-tiered white epoxy coated steel wire shelving (27” deep x 25.1” wide)
  • Shelf-supporting clips allow ½” vertical adjustment
  • Maximum clearance of 9.5” between each shelf tier

Precise temperature control is achieved through continuously-running condensing units which alternatively cycles refrigerant and hot gas to the coil, increasing the lifespan of your chamber. Percival incubators also include sturdy 18 and 22-gauge steel interior and exteriors in place of weaker aluminum.

Custom designs are available so call us today at 800.695.2743 for additional information or request a quote.




Export Award

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker presents Joni Campidilli, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Percival Scientific, Inc., the President’s “E” Awards for Exports

May 17, 2016 – Perry, Iowa — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker yesterday presented Percival Scientific, Inc. with the President’s “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. Percival Scientific was the only Iowa company to receive an award.

Percival Scientific has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion,” said Secretary Pritzker in her congratulatory letter to the company announcing its selection as an award recipient. “The “E” Awards Committee was very impressed with Percival Scientific’s customization of its product line to fit the needs of customers in export markets. The company’s creation of export supported jobs was also particularly notable. Percival Scientific’s achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs,” said Pritzker.

Percival Scientific, Inc, with roots in Iowa as far back as 1886, designs and manufacturers plant growth chambers, biological incubators and special application research chambers for universities, government institutions, biotechnology companies and private corporations. Percival products are found in all 50 states and in over 79 countries worldwide.

“Exporting continues to be the foundation of our sales growth, and we are honored to receive the “E” Award,” said Joni Campidilli, Vice President, Sales & Marketing. “Percival has been able to weather the economic downturns in the U.S. with the increase in our international business. The advantage Percival has had over the years is the ability to be flexible in our product design to adapt to the fluctuation of product demands.  Our export business represents 50% of our total sales, enabling us to sustain jobs and even expand our workforce.”

In 1961, President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America’s exporters. Secretary Pritzker honored 123 U.S. companies with the President’s “E” Award for their outstanding work to reduce barriers to foreign markets and to open the door to more trade around the world.

In 2015, U.S. exports totaled $2.23 trillion, accounting for nearly 13 percent of U.S. GDP. Nationally, exports contributed to the U.S. economy, supporting an estimated 11.5 million jobs.

U.S. companies are nominated for the “E” Awards through the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service office network, located within the Department’s International Trade Administration, with offices in 108 U.S. cities and more than 70 countries.  Record years of successive export growth and an applicant’s demonstration of an innovative international marketing plan that led to the increase in exports is a significant factor in selecting the winners.

For more information about the “E” Awards and the benefits of exporting, visit

For more information on Percival-Scientific, Inc., visit

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Maintaining Light Lamps for Optimal Performance

And How to Adjust the Lifetime Alarm Setting

research chamber control, light lifetime alarmOnce a bulb in a research chamber or incubator reaches 50% of its lifetime, the performance degrades significantly.

To assist with light maintenance, Percival includes a Light Lifetime Alarm in all chambers.  The light lifetime alarm can be set to inform you when your lamps have been operating beyond their recommended lifetime. The current lifetime limits for most lamps in Percival chambers is 40,000 hours; the Percival control system sets an alarm at 15,000 hours. Each light output configured in the controller will accumulate the number of hours for which each light event is energized.

When any of the configured light outputs has been on for longer than recommended, a light lifetime alarm will occur. When a light lifetime alarm occurs, the alarm buzzer will activate and a message indicating the alarm will be displayed. To silence the alarm, press any key. The lights controlled by the light output which caused the light lifetime alarm should be changed and the light lifetime reset. The alarm message will only clear by resetting the light lifetime output that triggered the alarm.

To adjust the light lifetime alarm setting use the following steps:

  1. Press the LIGHTS key.
  2. Use the (up) and (down) keys as necessary to select ‘Light Life Alarm’ and then press ENTER.
  3. Use the (up) and (down) keys as necessary to change the light lifetime alarm setting and then press ENTER.
  4. Press the LIGHTS key to return to the main display.

In the event of an alarm, to investigate which light output(s) caused the alarm use the following steps:

  1. Press the LIGHTS key.
  2. Press the (up) and (down) keys as necessary to select LIGHT 1 LIFE. Review this value. If it’s greater than the light lifetime alarm setting then the accumulated lifetime for this light output should be reset.
  3. Press the (down) key repeatedly to review each additional light output configured on the chamber. If the light lifetime for any additional light output exceeds the light lifetime alarm setting then reset the accumulated lifetime for that output.
  4. Press the LIGHTS key to return to the main display.

To reset the accumulated light lifetime of a light output use the following   steps:

  1. Press the LIGHTS key.
  2. Press the (up) and (down) keys as necessary to select ‘Light x Reset Time’ where x is the number of the light output you want to reset and then press ENTER.
  3. Press the (up) and (down) keys as necessary to select ‘Yes’ and then press ENTER.

Press the (up) and (down) keys as necessary to select another light output to reset or press the LIGHTS key to return to the main display.

For more information on Percival Chamber or for assistance with lighting settings, please contact us at 1.800.695.2743.

Percival Partners on New Concept in Plant Phenotyping

Iowa State University has selected Percival Scientific to manufacture the specialized growth Enviratron Rover imagechambers that will play a significant role in changing how plant data is collected.  Faculty members are developing a new facility that will utilize a specially designed robot to gather unprecedented amounts of data on the growth of plants under different environmental conditions.

View the Enviratron Graphic to see how this project will impact the future of climate change research.

Read more about the project here.

Four Levels of Research Chamber Control


This brief video will explain the four levels of chamber control that are available on Percival Scientific research chambers.  The levels vary based on research and data needs.  Android-based touchscreen interface, remote connectivity, and email notifications are just some of the options available.   Visit for more information.

Six Steps for Safe Shipping of Your Research Chamber

Percival Scientific devotes the same level of care in shipping a chamber or incubator as we do in in the design and manufacture of each.   We follow these six important steps whenever product leaves our manufacturing facility.

1) Percival contacts the contracted carrier with shipping information. Delivery address, contact name and phone number and the details of what is shipping (dimensions, weight and serial number) is electronically transmitted to the carrier from information stated on the purchase order.

2) Carrier calls the end user (this is referred to as a “pre-call”**) asking a series of questions to determine the delivery locations accessibility such as:

A.Is your location tractor-trailer accessible?  (trucks up to 70′ in overall length)
B. Do you have a loading dock?
C. Will delivery require use of stairs or elevator?
D. Did you want the driver to unpack & removing the shipping debris?
E. Do you have a forklift? (In those cases where it might be necessary)
F. What hours do you accept deliveries?
G .Other than yourself, is there someone I should list as an alternate contact? (including phone number, etc.)
H. Do you have an email address that we can use to send a confirmation?
**During this call the customer will be given a week’s window of when they may expect delivery.

3) Carrier picks up the completed orders from Percival Scientific, Inc. facility and takes to their local agent in Des Moines

4) Products are picked up from the local agent by a tractor/trailer where they will begin their journey to the end user.
a. This may require them to make various stops/drops along the way

5) Products are dropped off at the nearest delivery agent who will then make the final delivery to the customer either via tractor/trailer or small auxiliary truck (if delivery location is not tractor/trailer accessible)
a. At this time the customer will receive a second call from the shipper (either dispatch or the   driver themselves) to give a more accurate date and a two hour window of which they will be there to deliver.

6) On the designated day the unit is delivered by assigned carrier by two persons which have a 30 minute window to make the inside delivery (take to final location within the facility), unwrap the unit, remove the pallet and set it “in place” where it will then be the customer’s responsibility to place the lights and shelves in desired or designated places, plug into electrical supply (and any other services that may be required for operation (water, CO2, etc.).

8 Questions to Simplify the Research Chamber RFQ Process

Businessman trying to solve a maze questions

At Percival we respond to hundreds of requests and proposals for chambers representing many industries and every size of lab.  Because we manufacture so many chambers to meet specific research needs, it is important for us to know as many details as possible.  With that, we have developed these 8 questions to help streamline the process.

1. What is your research application? What are you looking to do and/or achieve?
The more we know about your research the better we can advise you on the models, options, and pricing that will help you reach your research goals.  What are you working with? Plants, insects, human cells, etc.?  What is the final application of your research?  What are you hoping to learn through your research?

2. What size of chamber do you need?
Percival offers a range of sizes to meet the various needs of our customers. How much lab space can you devote to a new chamber?  Does the scale of your research require a large chamber; one in-which you can walk in to?  Or will a smaller, reach-in chamber suffice?

3. What temperature range does your research require?
Your temperature requirements also dictate cooling requirements.  Will you cool with pressurized air or chilled water? Lighting inside the chamber can impact the temperature, so knowing the temperature range will help us guide you through what types of lighting will work best for your chamber.

4. What are the relative humidity (RH) requirements of your research application?
Humidity control is a function that can determine many needs beyond the chamber itself. If you need to replicate high humidity levels or levels that change often, then you may need access to a drain or a water supply to meet those needs.

5. What are your light intensity requirements?
Plants need light to grow. Most insects respond to light cycles.  Knowing the intensity level, type and frequency of lighting helps Percival recommend not only the best chamber, but also the optimal electrical requirements, part replacement schedules, and temperature impacts.

6. What are your chamber height requirements?
If you are doing plant-based research, knowing the ultimate plant height allow us to build a chamber that is sized correctly and provides the optimal amount of light intensity for that level of growth.

7. How many shelves/tiers do you require?
Like all of our questions, this is useful for helping us pin down an appropriately sized chamber for your needs.

8. What is your budget?
Your research needs are going to dictate the cost of a chamber more than anything else.  However, we do want to meet as many of those needs as we can within your budget guidelines.
We hope these questions will serve as a guide to organize your needs and lessen the time spent on a chamber RFQ. We understand that you may not have all the answers right away; building a quote is a process.

How to submit a quote request with Percival-Scientific
To start the process, complete a quick request form on our web site, call 1.800.695.2743, or email us at

Troubleshooting Research Chamber Humidity Sensors

As a follow-up to our post on Controlling Humidity in Growth Chambers,  we’ve developed this handy infographic to help current Percival chamber users troubleshoot issues with humidity sensors.  This will lead you easily and simply through the process to ensure that your humidity sensors are performing accurately.  For additional questions, please feel to contact us at 1.800.695.2743


Humidity in Growth Chambers

Relative Humidity and Controlled Environments

Humidity is defined as the water vapor content of a gas.
Absolute Humidity (AH) = (mass of water vapor / volume of air mixture)

Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in air as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature.
Relative Humidity (RH) = (actual vapor density / saturation vapor density) x 100%

In most situations, both research and non-research, humidity is discussed in terms of relative humidity as absolute humidity is difficult to apply to most situations.  For controlled environments, relative humidity impacts both the environment’s ability to control temperature and the life and growth of the contents.  Relative humidity and temperature are closely tied in the small volume of a growth chamber as even small temperature changes cause significant changes in the relative humidity level.  When humidity levels are important to the research being conducted, it is even more important that the temperature control is both stable and accurate.

Two Components to Controlling Humidity
There are two components to controlling or maintaining relative humidity levels in an incubator or growth chamber.  The first component, adding humidity to the environment, is relatively straight-forward and can be accomplished in a variety of ways based upon the size of the environment, the required temperature range, the light intensity levels and the needed relative humidity percentage.  The most common ways are:
1. Pan-type or reservoir humidifier – the simplest system which consists of a pan/reservoir of water and, in most cases, some type of heater to assist with evaporative humidification.  Usually it is controlled by a humidity sensor.
2. Ultrasonic humidifier – a more advanced system that uses a transducer oscillating at a high frequency to produce ultrasonic waves which are directed to the water surface, atomizing the water to an extremely fine mist.  Again, generally controlled by a humidity sensor.
3. Spray nozzle / spray mist – a forced-air system that uses a valve / nozzle to spray mist into the supply air of the chamber, the mist then being circulated with the conditioned air.

The second component to controlling relative humidity is dehumidification.  This is most commonly achieved in a controlled environment by the use of a refrigeration / cooling coil dehumidifier.  This system consists of an electrical heater and one dehumidifying evaporator that is separate from the chamber cooling evaporator.  When dehumidification is required, the temperature of the evaporator will drop to the point where the chamber moisture will condense on the coil.  The heater acts to reheat the dried air back to the programmed temperature before the air is returned to the chamber environment.

Welcome to Percival Scientific, Inc’s Blog – where we help you create better science!

We are pleased to be sharing information, tips and tools for helping you create better science.   Some of the topics we are working on include:

The benefits of LED Lighting systems
Dimmable lighting
The pros & cons of water-cooled vs. air-cooled condensing units
Tips on how to maintain your Percival Chamber or Incubator for maximum efficiency and to ensure it helps you create better science for years to come!
And much, much more!

We welcome your comments and questions!