Posts Tagged ‘Autoclaves’

What is Autoclave?

April 9th, 2014

An autoclave is a device that uses steam to sterilize equipment and other objects by subjecting them to high pressure saturated steam at 121 °C and 15 pounds of pressure per square inch depending  for around 15–20 minutes on the size of the load and the contents.. This means that all bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores are destroyed.

Autoclaves work by allowing steam to enter and maintaining extremely high pressure for at least 15 minutes. Because damp heat is used, heat-labile products (such as some plastics) cannot be sterilized or they will melt. Autoclaves are filled with water and work by creating steam within an enclosed environment, which builds up pressure.

The air within the autoclave is gradually replaced with steam, which can reach higher temperatures than the air. High-temperature steam can surround and infiltrate the items, even reaching within the crevices in stainless steel instruments. This process kills all bacteria, viruses and bacterial spores. The autoclave comes in several types.

One of the simplest autoclaves looks a great deal like a pressure cooker. It is a large pot with a gauge on top and bolts that fasten the top to the pot. The idea behind this is that water inside a pressurized container can be heated above the boiling point. It will only reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius) in an open container. However, in a pressurized autoclave, the water will reach much higher temperatures.