Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 3/27/18 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.
What do you think of when you hear the word “autoclave?”
If you’ve heard of it at all, it’s probably in a vague reference to the medical field.
But autoclave systems are used to sterilize many things – not just medical equipment, as you may have thought. They are also used to sterilize biohazardous waste and waste from international airplane flights, also known as deplaned waste.
Biohazard autoclave sterilization involves using steam and pressure to kill bacteria and pathogens so that the items come out clean and safe for disposal.
The temperature within the medical waste autoclave reaches high temperatures – up to 132 degrees Celsius – throughout the cleaning process. The high temperature of the steam will work to kill all of the biohazardous bacteria and microbes on the items.
Here’s how autoclave sterilization works.
Autoclave sterilization system set-up
There are many parts of an autoclave system.
The system consists of the autoclave the items are placed in, called the “chamber.”
Most chambers are cylindrical because this shape is less likely to succumb to high pressure and steam.
Once the items to be sterilized are inside the chamber, it’s locked.
The autoclave system also has a vacuum pump and a safety valve that helps to regulate the temperature and pressure of the steam being used to prevent overheating.
Because of the high temperatures and pressure being used within the autoclave system, it’s an effective way to sterilize all of the objects and materials inside.
Autoclave sterilization steps
Now that you know the working parts, it’s important to understand the actual process and how it all comes together to actually sterilize.
Here are the autoclave sterilization steps:
- Put everything that needs to be sterilized inside the chamber and lock it.
- A vacuum pump sucks the air out of the chamber. The steam entering the chamber also works to suck all the air out. The pressure from the steam entering the chamber also helps to suck all the air out.
- The autoclave sterilization temperature is crucial. Make sure it has enough time to heat up.
- The steam continuously covers whatever is in the autoclave, effectively killing bacteria and microbes.
- At the designated time, the steam is released and the chamber can be opened. The freshly-sterilized materials can be removed and they’re ready for disposal.
Sterilization by autoclave
Now that you understand the parts of an autoclave sterilization system and you know the steps, it’s easy to see the importance of a quality pressure vessel to get the job done.
An autoclave that is in disrepair or not working properly may take longer to sterilize waste – or, it may not effectively sterilize it at all.
Autoclave issues can also throw a wrench in your schedule. Any mistakes can quickly put your behind.
The only way to be sure you can stay on schedule is to work with a seasoned expert who can help you from design, through the manufacturing process, and right into maintenance and repair.
Get in touch with Tank Fab today and let’s talk about how we can help.