Last Updated on April 2, 2024


TOMY Fast Lab Autoclave SX-Series clean chamber

Top-loading autoclaves’ vertically aligned chambers are ideal for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors

In the world of biotechnology and brewing, bioreactors and fermentors play a crucial role in the production of various products, ranging from pharmaceuticals to craft beers. It’s important to ensure the sterility of these vessels to prevent contamination and achieve optimal results. 

Autoclaves have emerged as a highly effective method for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors due to their ability to subject the entire apparatus to high heat and pressure, eradicating unwanted organisms without harsh chemicals.

However, the type of autoclave sterilizer you choose can make a big difference in your process. For those in biotech, top-loading laboratory autoclaves might be the better choice, as they can provide an efficient, affordable, and hassle-free solution for bioreactor and fermentor sterilization.

Top-Loading Autoclaves vs. Front-Loading Autoclaves

Autoclaves are the gold standard for steam sterilization. However, one thing to know is that they may come in two different orientations: top-loading and front-loading.

A top-loading autoclave, also known as a vertical autoclave, has the chamber door opening upwards towards the ceiling. They utilize vertical cylinders and are big and tall enough to be placed on the floor, allowing you to fit more laboratory equipment and preserve desk & tabletop space.

TOMY Fast Lab Autoclave SX-Series loading baskets

On the other hand, a front-loading autoclave, also known as a horizontal autoclave, has the chamber doors opening outwards towards you. They are often smaller than top-loading autoclaves and are better placed on top of tables and counters.

But many organizations, particularly smaller laboratories in biotech start-ups and breweries, face challenges in acquiring and maintaining traditional front-loading autoclaves. The larger models required to accommodate even small to medium-sized bioreactors and fermentors can be expensive, space-consuming, and labor-intensive to install.

This is where a top-loading autoclave comes to the rescue, offering a practical solution for smaller labs with limited resources.

Why Choose Top-Loading Autoclaves for Bioreactor and Fermentor Sterilization?

Top-loading autoclaves have several advantages that make them the preferred choice for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors.

Sourcing autoclaves to sterilize small bioreactors and fermentors can be challenging due to the configuration of and cost of most autoclaves

Bigger capacity

Top-loading autoclaves are designed with a vertically aligned cylindrical chamber, making them a perfect fit for cylindrical bioreactors and fermentors, which are commonly used in research and production processes. The vertical design also allows you to stack autoclave baskets, that way you’re utilizing and getting the most out of the available space and capacity.

In addition, the size and dimensions of these autoclaves are well-suited for accommodating smaller vessels, allowing for efficient steam sterilization without wasting energy on a larger chamber than necessary. For instance, the TOMY SX-700, with a 70L chamber size, can easily handle 7L, 10L, and even 15L bioreactors and fermentors. If you are unsure about the compatibility of your bioreactor or fermentor with TOMY autoclaves, our team can assist you in finding the right fit.

Takes up less counter space

Top-loading autoclaves can be a huge space saver. They have a relatively small footprint in relation to their capacity. The TOMY SX-Series steam autoclave, for instance, boasts the smallest known footprint-to-chamber size ratio among top-loading autoclaves. Plus, this steam sterilizer can be placed on the floor, saving valuable counter and benchtop space in cramped laboratories.


The vertical configuration of a top-loading autoclave sterilizer brings several benefits when it comes to loading and unloading bioreactors and fermentors. With front-loading autoclaves, you may have to reach deep into the back of the machine to grab your equipment. But with top-loading models, the use of baskets and their stacking ability helps to simplify the process, making it easier for you to handle heavy bioreactors and fermentor cylinders, even when hot after a heat sterilization cycle.

Easy to move and clean

Sometimes, you may want to move your machine from one place to another. But front-loading autoclaves are quite heavy and may require more people to help you move them. However, a top-loading autoclave is equipped with wheels for quicker mobilization. They make it easy so that even one person can move it on their own.

Additionally, the cleaning process can be a breeze in top-loading autoclaves. The tall loading basket allows for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors with liquid culture media inside the vessel. The steam autoclave, when used with a tall basket, can capture any spills or overflows, preventing liquids from entering the chamber water and causing potential damage. Even if water does happen to spill inside the chamber, it comes with a drainage valve to help remove it.

Simple installation

One of the most significant advantages of top-loading autoclaves is their ease of installation. Many autoclaves require electricity, water, heat, and even steam, which may limit where you can place the machine. But top-loading models only need electricity. They just need to be plugged in and filled with water to start the steam sterilization process. This simplicity makes them an attractive choice for labs with limited infrastructure and resources.


Furthermore, top-loading autoclaves, such as the TOMY SX-Series, offer an affordable alternative in terms of high loading capacity for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors. Their straightforward design translates to increased reliability and lower maintenance costs in the long run, making them a cost-effective investment for laboratories of all sizes.

High-quality material

The materials commonly used in their construction, such as stainless steel and glass, can withstand the high temperatures required for effective steam sterilization and prevent fouling. This increases autoclave safety and ensures the protection of mammalian & insect cells and tissues cultured in bioreactors and various microorganisms used in fermentors, including bacteria, yeast, and algae.

Efficient sterilization process

Lastly, laboratory autoclaves offer a definitive steam sterilization process, leaving no room for residual contamination, unlike chemical methods that might leave behind traces of acidic substances. This makes autoclaves a safer and more reliable option for critical applications in research, production, and quality control settings.

The Best of All Worlds

Top-loading autoclaves are a practical and efficient solution for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors in small laboratories, biotech start-ups, and breweries. Their vertical design, ease of use, affordability, and research safety make them a viable option for organizations seeking a reliable steam sterilizer without breaking the bank.

If you are interested in exploring the possibilities of TOMY SX-Series laboratory autoclaves and their compatibility with your bioreactor or fermentor, our team is ready to assist you. Reach out to us through our contact form, and one of our sales representatives will promptly respond to your queries.

Steam sterilization is the key to successful and contamination-free biotechnology and brewing processes, and with top-loading autoclaves, you can achieve the highest standards of cleanliness and efficiency in your laboratory operations.

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