Here is a rundown of the main parts of an autoclave and the functions that they have in its operation. Used in several industries, autoclaves clean equipment and keep them free from bacteria. Autoclaves use steam and high pressure to clean and sterilize equipment in a manner similar to a pressure cooker. Autoclaves may differ from model to model, but these parts are present on most types.
Contaminated items are loaded in one end of a large cylindrical chamber. There may be mountings inside the chamber for shelving and trays. It is then sealed off by a door and door seal. The front door to the autoclave seals off the outside atmosphere from the items inside the chamber. A manual lock and the door seal keep the contents inside secure and prevents leakage. See our list of key component parts for an autoclave.
In addition to the door seal, there are several other gaskets and seals fitted to an autoclave including generator gaskets and bed-pan seals. These seals are made of silicone and keep moisture from escaping the autoclave, as well as protecting the contents from the outside atmosphere. You may find that some seals will need to be graphited before fitting to the autoclave.
Steam is feed into the chamber at a higher atmospheric temperature through a pipe located at the bottom of the cylinder. The increased pressure means that the temperature is 20 degrees centigrade higher than the normal boiling point of water. A safety valve is fitted to stop the pressure inside the chamber exceeding the maximum temperature.
Once the desired temperature has been reached in the autoclave a thermostat starts a timer. This timer is generally set to 15-20 minutes depending on the level of contamination of the materials inside the autoclave and how they have been loaded into the chamber.