Autoclaves can be used for a variety of purposes, like treating wood, and the manufacture of rubber tires or hoses.
But did you know it is also used for the decontamination of waste products?
Think back to the last time you flew on a plane to a vacation destination (lucky you!) or had a medical procedure done at the hospital (not so lucky you).
All the trash that was created by either of these two industries must be sterilized before being disposed of so that any bacteria or pathogens that reside on the waste products are destroyed prior to being dumped in a landfill.
How Autoclave Systems Work
Autoclave systems work very much like pressure cookers, in a sense. Autoclave systems are a steel container, usually in the shape of a cylinder that uses steam or gas by boiling water and passing it through the system and over the equipment in order to sterilize it. Autoclave systems are working with a much higher power of steam and pressure than pressure cookers in order to completely sterilize the medical equipment.
The water in an autoclave system will generally reach a temperature of higher than 120 degrees Celsius, which is about 20 degrees higher than the standard boiling point. The temperature needs to be this hot so that the medical equipment will be fully sterilized to the highest degree. Also, the autoclave system will automatically become self-sealing as a result of the intense pressure, making sure that the steam and gas cannot leak from the system.
While the system is working and once it is sealed, the air is then removed by a pump that forces the air out. The next step in the process is for the steam or gas to pumped through the autoclave system until the desired temperature is reached. The entire process, once the desired temperature is reached, lasts approximately 20 minutes which is just enough time to kill all of the bacteria and organisms from the medical equipment. However, depending upon the type of equipment and degree of contamination, the time for the process to complete could take more time if needed.
Without the use of the autoclave system, the medical field would find it very difficult to sterilize their medical equipment. The time it would take to properly sterilize equipment after surgeries and routine procedure would greatly impact the ability to spend more time caring for patients. It is clear to see that the development of the autoclave system is greatly beneficial to the medical profession and serves an important purpose for the sterilization of medical equipment.