Last Updated on April 9, 2024


Taking sample from biotechnological bioreactor in microbiological laboratory.An autoclave can completely change how your lab sterilizes bioreactors and fermenters.
Bioreactors and fermenters are essential tools in microbiology, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. However, they require strict sanitation. Bioprocesses require precise control and complete elimination of contaminants, and keeping up with that in a busy lab setting can be extremely inconvenient.

That’s where an autoclave can help. The autoclaving process is uniquely suited to handling bioreactor and fermentor sterilization. If you aren’t sure you want to take the plunge and invest in new lab equipment, read on to find out how an autoclave can transform your lab.

Introduction to Bioreactor and Fermentor Sterilization

Recently, there has been an increased focus on monoclonal antibody (mAbs)-based treatments as a promising therapy against different viruses. Bioreactors and fermentors are critical to this research.

If you aren’t familiar with them, bioreactors and fermentors are vessels in which biological reactions are induced under controlled conditions. They’re used to produce biological products such as antibiotics, hormones, or vaccines.

These devices require strict aseptic conditions to prevent the introduction of microorganisms that could compromise the quality and safety of the final product. Proper bioreactor and fermentor sterilization is key to preventing contamination from ruining production levels.

However, many labs have problems ensuring complete sterilization. Sterilization goes further than disinfecting or cleaning and is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve through chemical means.

Autoclaves ensure complete sterilization and work quickly and efficiently. Because they can sterilize the entire contraption, autoclaving is the preferred method for bioreactor and fermentor sterilization.

How To Increase Your Autoclaving Capacity

Increasing an operation’s autoclaving capacity in a short amount of time is not a simple task both in terms of logistics and funding. This is often because many industrial autoclaves are large and expensive equipment that may be difficult and time-consuming to source, install, and maintain.

Many labs already have at least one autoclave, but you may quickly run into capacity issues if you’re trying to grow your operation. Many laboratories are still in the early to intermediate research stage and are unclear on the promise of mAbs-based therapeutic products. They may not be ready to make large-scale capital investments in industrial-scale autoclaves.

Many large industrial autoclaves are configured awkwardly. Their horizontal orientation wastes a lot of internal space, forcing labs to size up to get the necessary capacity. Autoclaves large enough to accommodate small—to medium-size bioreactors and fermenters would need investments of tens of thousands of dollars.

Top-loading autoclaves

The vertically aligned chamber configuration of top-loading autoclaves provides the perfect solution for effectively and affordably scaling a bioreactor and fermentor sterilization operation.

Some autoclaves are designed to effectively accommodate smaller bioreactors and fermentors while being inexpensive, compact, and easy to install.

Top-loading type autoclaves are ideal for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors in research laboratories. Though they’re smaller overall and less expensive in general, top-loading autoclaves still offer advanced features and customizable settings. These autoclaves provide precise control over sterilization parameters, ensuring that all microbial life is effectively eradicated without damaging the sensitive components of bioreactors and fermentors.

Reasons To Use Top-Loading Autoclaves

Laboratories that have immediate demand to scale their operation may find the following features useful:


Top-loading autoclaves have chambers that are cylindrical and vertically aligned, making them perfect for accommodating bioreactors and fermentors, which are often also cylindrical.

The size and dimensions of most top-loading autoclaves are a good match for smaller bioreactors and fermentors. The TOMY SX-700 (70L Chamber Size) can easily accommodate 7L, 10L, and even 15L* bioreactors and fermentors. Please contact us if you have questions about your bioreactor/fermentor compatibility with TOMY autoclaves.


The vertical configuration of top-loading autoclaves makes the loading/unloading bioreactors and fermentors easy (and maintains vertical alignment during the loading and sterilization cycle), especially compared to smaller front-loading autoclaves. A tall loading basket allows for easy handling of heavy bioreactor/fermentor cylinders, especially when the device is hot after a sterilization cycle.

The vertical configuration allows bioreactors and fermentors to be sterilized with liquid culture media inside the cylinder. When used with a tall basket, liquids can be caught and prevented from entering the chamber water.

Top-loading autoclaves have a relatively small footprint in terms of capacity. TOMY SX-Series autoclaves have the smallest known footprint-to-chamber size ratio among top-loading autoclaves.
TOMY top-loading autoclaves require no installation (steam or exhaust connections) and simply need to be plugged in and filled with water.


Standard front-loading autoclaves large enough to accommodate bioreactors and fermenters are prohibitively expensive for smaller organizations and highly ineffective (in terms of price to loading capacity) for all organizations. Relatively speaking, top-loading autoclaves, such as TOMY SX-Series autoclaves, are very affordable and have high loading capacity for sterilizing bioreactors and fermenters.

Because of the simplicity of design, reliability, and low maintenance, top-loading autoclaves are more affordable in terms of long-term upkeep costs.


Sterilization is a non-negotiable step in operating bioreactors and fermentors, and the choice of sterilization equipment directly impacts a laboratory’s workflow.

Top-loading autoclaves can be an effective and efficient means of sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors and quickly and cost-effectively scaling up antibody production research operations. TOMY autoclaves provide a dependable solution for the sterilization needs of bioreactors and fermentors, offering precision, safety, and reliability. With their advanced features and flexibility, TOMY autoclaves are an essential tool for any facility engaged in bioprocessing, ensuring that products meet the highest quality and safety standards.

Disclaimer: TOMY autoclaves are for research use only. Information in this blog entry is not meant to substitute for proper research, execution, and maintenance of laboratory practices. Please check the most up-to-date information from authoritative sources and adhere to applicable federal, state, and local regulations.

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