Autoclaves are used to clean and sterilize equipment, keeping them free from bacteria. They achieve this by using steam and high pressure, rather like a domestic pressure cooker. In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at autoclaves and how they are used.
Autoclaves are used by the chemical, food, aerospace, textiles and medical industries such as dentistry and prosthetics. All these sectors require their equipment to have a high standard of cleanliness. For example, the food industry needs all items that come into contact with the food being made on their production lines, to be sterilized. This is because it is vitally important that the food does not become contaminated, which could result in food poisoning risks to customers and a halt in production.
As well as sterilization, autoclaves are used in the engineering sector to vulcanize rubber and cure composites. They are also used to grow quartz crystals by the electronics industry.
Once the equipment has been loaded into the autoclave, the air that is trapped in the autoclave after the door has been shut has to be removed. This is achieved in a number of ways including vacuum pumps, gravity displacement or steam pulsing. After the air is gone, an autoclave will fill with pressurized steam at a temperature of around 121 degrees centigrade. Depending on the amount and size of the items being cleaned, the process will last for about 15 to 20 minutes. Read more about the autoclave sterilization process here.
Autoclaves provide many industries with peace of mind that their equipment is clean and sterile. So, whether they are using test tubes, surgical instruments, gloves or dressings, the autoclave allows them to use the equipment with confidence when going about their business.