What Is the Purpose of an Autoclave?

What Is the Purpose of an Autoclave?

An autoclave is a laboratory or medical device that uses steam to sterilize equipment and biohazardous waste. This method of using wet heat to destroy dangerous organisms is considered the most reliable method of sterilization for most applications.

By heating laboratory or medical equipment and contaminated materials to temperatures of at least 134 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes, or 121 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, autoclaving destroys or inactivates:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Spores

What Are the Applications of Autoclave Sterilization?

The autoclave sterilization process is used in a wide variety of settings and manufacturing applications. Some of these include:

  • Sterilizing medical and surgical equipment during manufacture and for re-use.
  • Sterilizing laboratory equipment between uses and preventing cross-contamination of cultures.
  • Sterilizing dental instruments in compliance with health codes and requirements.
  • Sterilizing medical or biological waste products prior to disposal into landfills or municipal waste facilities.
  • Neutralizing potentially infectious waste, such as specimen cultures, serums, vaccines, plant materials, and plant pests which must be made biologically inactive before disposal.

The autoclave sterilization process is not used for plastics with a low melting temperature or for paper products.

How Does an Autoclave Work?

Medical and laboratory autoclaves work by circulating hot steam around the items to be sterilized. The guidelines will ensure proper operation:

  • Properly calibrated equipment provides saturated steam under a pressure, to achieve 15 pounds per square inch at a temperature of at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121°C) for the full cycle—typically 30-60 minutes.
  • Reusable items of laboratory and medical equipment are placed to allow all surfaces to come in contact with the pressurized steam.
  • Infectious waste may be processed in autoclavable bags marked with the universal biohazard symbol and filled to no more than ¾ full.
  • Regular maintenance and sterility monitoring are performed by using chemical autoclave indicator tape to monitor efficacy monthly, at a minimum.

Finding a Medical Grade Autoclave for Your Application

Industrial and medical regulations may guide your choice in selecting the right autoclave for your facility. Whether you need an autoclave for continuous hospital use, daily equipment sterilization, or preparing biological waste for disposal, we have the right system for your needs.

Operating costs will include water and power consumption, so selecting a model that suits your application while making efficient use of autoclave space and design will be the best facility investment. Replacing old and outdated autoclave or sterilization equipment today starts saving your organization money tomorrow.

While the financial benefits of purchasing a new autoclave may not be as obvious as revenue-generating equipment like an ECG machine or new ultrasound machines, re-using expensive equipment, saving water, reducing energy costs, and complying with regulations make an autoclave a wise investment for most laboratories and medical facilities.

Purchasing a new autoclave from the Medical Device Depot will bring these benefits to you and offer the widest range of equipment ready to ship to your location fast. With available financing, there is no reason to work with sub-standard equipment. Contact us today to learn more: 877-646-3300 or 410-750-8757.