Autoclave Archives | TOMY
Fast and Cost-Effective Autoclave Scale-Up for Antibody Production Research

Fast and Cost-Effective Autoclave Scale-Up for Antibody Production Research

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

Sourcing autoclaves for bioreactor or fermentor sterilization can be challenging due to complex logistics and funding limitations, however, top-loading autoclaves’ can be an ideal solution for quickly increasing a research operation’s sterilization capacity.

 

The Promise of Recombinant Antibody Treatment

As a promising therapy against coronavirus and other viruses, there has been increased focus on monoclonal antibody (mAbs)-based treatments and possibly preventative therapies.  This in turn has raised demand for equipment necessary for antibody production research, as well as preemptively increasing demand for equipment used in full-scale production.

Though there are a plethora of antibody cloning methods, whether the host of choice is  bacteria, yeast, or mammalian cells, etc., the preferred methods for scalability will involve the use of bioreactors or fermentors to maximize production levels and increase efficiency.  Anyone who has been involved in antibody cloning operations will also know that proper bioreactor and fermentor sterilization is key to preventing contamination and maintaining production levels.

Challenges in Increasing Sterilization Capacity

Autoclaving is the preferred method for bioreactor and fermentor sterilization due to the ability to effectively sterilize the entire contraption under highly pressurized steam.  However, increasing an operation’s autoclaving capacity in a short amount of time is not an easy task, both in terms of logistics and funding.  This is often due to the fact that autoclaves tend to be large and expensive pieces of equipment, which not coincidentally are also difficult and time-consuming to source, install and maintain.  

Many laboratories, which are still in the early to intermediate research stage and unclear on the promise of mAbs-based therapeutic products may not be ready to make large-scale capital investments in industrial-scale autoclaves.  Due to the awkward configuration of most industrial autoclaves, those that are large enough to accommodate small to medium-size bioreactors and fermenters would require investments of tens of thousands of dollars, even to meet marginal throughput.  Fortunately, there are autoclaves that are designed to effectively accommodate smaller bioreactors and fermentors, while being inexpensive, compact, and easy to install.

Top-loading autoclaves and the vertical configuration of the chamber allows for efficient research-scale bioreactor and fermentor sterilization

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

Top-loading autoclaves’ vertically-aligned chamber configuration provide the perfect solution for effectively and affordably scaling a bioreactor and fermentor sterilization operation.

Top-Loading Autoclaves for Bioreactors / Fermentor Sterilization

Top-loading type autoclaves are ideal for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors typically found in research laboratories, due to the design, utility, and affordability of these types of autoclaves. 

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

Design

 

Utility

  • The vertical configuration of top-loading autoclaves makes loading/unloading of bioreactors and fermentors easy (and maintain vertical alignment during loading and sterilization cycle), especially compared to smaller front-loading autoclaves. Using 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 for 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 for their 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.

 

Affordability

  • 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 in high loading capacity for sterilization of bioreactors and fermenters.
  • Due to the simplicity of design, reliability, and low maintenance needs, top-loading autoclaves are more affordable in terms of long-term upkeep costs.

 

As illustrated, top-loading autoclaves can be both an effective and efficient means in bioreactor and fermentor sterilization, as well as quickly and cost-effectively scale-up antibody production research operations.

For pricing and questions concerning TOMY SX-Series autoclaves and compatibility of bioreactor/fermentor models, please use our contact form, email, or call us at 858-800-3900.

Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

Saves You Lots

 

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

Autoclaves for Start-Ups

Autoclaves for Start-Ups

The cost of an autoclave for a start-up is considerable, especially when taking into account long-term costs

When selecting an autoclave at a start-up lab, in addition to functionality one of the most important considerations is costs, both in the short and long-term.

The Start-Up Autoclave: What You’re Up Against

Let me start by describing a scenario that may sound familiar to you: You’re working at a biotech startup or small laboratory. You’ve been tasked with buying basic lab equipment. You’re looking at autoclaves and you’re not impressed with the options. Too big. Too small. Not enough throughput. Too much of a pain to maintain and deal with repairs. Too expensive…and way too expensive.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, I’ll be talking about how to find the ideal autoclave for startups and small labs. I will cover features to look for, as well as how to save money and time in the short and long term, which are both extremely important for startups.

The Checklist

As you embark on your autoclave search, you probably have a number of criteria, but it basically boils down to an autoclave that is:

  • Compact
  • Large capacity
  • Accommodates large items (large bottles, bioreactors, etc.)
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to maintain
  • Won’t break the bank with maintenance, repairs and other headaches

Let’s take a look at the options below and see how they hold up.

 

Option: The Bench-Top Autoclave

After you have your checklist, you take a look at your options- the first one that you’ll probably come across is the benchtop autoclave.

These look like a large, microwave oven that sits on the benchtop with the door on the front. Compact and convenient right?  When you take a closer look, you’ll see that they come with a number of disadvantages.

For one, they don’t fit much inside. When you open one up, you’ll see that there’s a box-shaped area sitting in a sideways-facing cylinder, which creates a lot of unused areas that waste space from the start.

On top of that, the small clearance means that you’re not going to fit much in there.  f you need to autoclave large flasks, you’ll be lucky to fit even one, and if you have a bioreactor or fermenter, good luck getting that thing in there.

The second major disadvantage is that they’re a benchtop autoclave.  They sit, taking up valuable workspace or space that can be used for other valuable equipment. If space is already at a premium, why go and use this space if you have other options?

Conclusion: It’s best to look past front-loading bench-top autoclaves, because:

1) They’re too small for your equipment and limit throughput

2) They take up badly needed space

 

Option: The Large Front-Loading Autoclave

Another option is the large, front-loading autoclave. This is like the giant cousin of the benchtop autoclave. They basically take the same front-loading format, but instead of putting it on the benchtop, it’s designed to stand on the floor in some unused corner of your lab.

Some might say that this saves benchtop space, so it’s good,  RIGHT?  Well, this comes with the same disadvantages of benchtop autoclaves with its sideways-facing cylinder. These also have the box built inside the chamber, so you’re wasting idle space and you’re not getting much in there.

Doing some basic math, you’ll find that a 100L capacity autoclave, with a square box built into a sideways cylindrical chamber only, has at most 70 liters of autoclaving space, meaning that you’re wasting 30% right off of the bat.

You’ll also find that a cube is an awkward space to place mostly round items, meaning you’re wasting more, especially if you can’t effectively stack these items. On top of it all, you’ve got a bunch of idle, unused space below the autoclave. So in the end, even though you’ve moved the autoclave off of the bench, it’s taking up a lot of space that won’t be used for autoclaving.

Finally, if you’ve ever looked into a large, freestanding front-loading autoclave, you’ll know that they come with a hefty sticker price.  There’s a lot of other costs associated with these large autoclaves as well, especially maintenance and repair costs.

Conclusion: Large front-loading autoclaves have the same problems as small bench-top autoclaves, including:

1) The sideways-facing cylinder is an ineffective use of space

2) Cube-spaced don’t accommodate lab media, which are mostly round

3) They’re huge and expensive (and a major headache to deal with)

 

Option: Top-Loading Autoclaves

So, we’ve covered benchtop and floor-standing front-loaders and we’ve found that they’re not that efficient in their use of space.  If you’ve looked at prices, you’ll also find that they’re not all that cheap either, even considering that they’re not able to handle much.  I’d like to now turn our attention to top-loading autoclaves.

So, to quickly summarize top-loading autoclaves, they are as the name implies, completely different than front-loading autoclaves in their design.  Take for example the TOMY SX-Series autoclaves.

In top-loading autoclaves, the cylinder is oriented not horizontally, but vertically.  This confers a number of advantages.

For one, it won’t take up any space on your bench and hardly any space on the floor.  This autoclave here takes up less than 3 square feet and can be placed anywhere it has a source of electricity.  No plumbing or exhaust installations involved.

Another thing that’s great about top-loading autoclaves is that you’re using the full cylinder to sterilize- because it’s vertical, there’s no need to have a box built into it or have trays that slide in, you’re really using the cylinder in its entirety.

Conclusion: Top-loading autoclaves confer a number of advantages for small start-up labs.

  1. They’re compact and won’t take up benchtop space
  2. The vertically-oriented cylinder is a more efficient use of space
  3. They’re easy to install and can be placed virtually anywhere in the lab

There are a lot more advantages to top-loading autoclaves, let’s take a deeper dive below.

 

Top-Loading Autoclaves’ Loading System

If you’re new to top-loading autoclaves and wondering how to load items, they use a clever system of baskets and buckets to pre-load and place items into the chamber.  Baskets and buckets come in various sizes and configurations for different types of media including small items such as glassware, liquid media, and large items such as bioreactors or fermenters.

For small to medium-size items, the TOMY SX-Series comes with stackable baskets.  The SX-Series can stack up to 3 of these baskets inside, so with each of these baskets fully-loaded, you’re able to pack quite a bit in each cycle.  TOMY autoclaves can also accommodate up to 2 stainless buckets for autoclaving liquid media or slightly larger items like 5-liter bottles.  There is also a tall solid-bottom basket that takes up the chamber in its entirety to autoclave the largest items, or use for sterilizing waste.

TOMY autoclaves are extremely handy when it comes to autoclaving large items such as fermentors or bioreactors because you can load and autoclave the entire cylinder using a tall solid-bottom basket.

With this one small autoclave, you can take care of a range of items, eliminating the need for an industrial-size autoclave that’s going to waste your operation’s valuable time and money.

 

Top-Loading Autoclaves’ Low Maintenance Costs

If you’re working at a biotech startup or small lab, you’ll know that funds are not easy to come by, so you’ll want to avoid spending on maintenance and repairs as much as possible.  To put it another way, you’ll want to avoid purchasing an autoclave that’s going to cost you a lot down the road.

The most common type of autoclave maintenance is lid gasket replacement.  Lid gasket replacement costs can be deceptively high, sometimes up to thousands of dollars a year.  Due to their design, front-loading autoclaves use a very thin lid gasket that can require changing in as little as one month.  At hundreds apiece, in a matter of a few years, your spending on these rubber bands will surpass the cost of the actual autoclave.  Your investors are not going to be happy, and you’re not going to be happy either if your autoclave is keeping your operation from turning a profit.

The lid gasket on TOMY Autoclaves is completely different.  It requires changing once every 1,000 operating hours, which works out to be once every 1 – 3 years.  Starting at under $600 a piece, these gaskets alone will keep maintenance costs as low as a couple of hundred dollars (USD) a year, compared to thousands, helping you to keep your operation’s balance sheets healthy and in the black.

 

Top-Loading Autoclaves Repair Costs

If you’ve ever dealt with an autoclave breaking down, you’ll know that repairs can leave a huge dent in your operation’s balance sheet, easily in the thousands each time.  You probably also know that if something happens once, it’s likely to happen several times.  To look at things in a larger perspective, it’s not only the monetary cost of the repair itself, but the cost of your whole operation grinding to a screeching halt.

If you have the option you’ll probably want to avoid this altogether.  The simplicity of design and few moving parts, combined with the sturdy gasket will keep your TOMY autoclave from breaking down and bogging down your operation and balance sheets.

TOMY autoclaves are still manufactured in Japan, where the SX-Series’ lifetime exceeds 15 years, which is quite remarkable because it means that most of the first generation models are still up and running.  By investing in a TOMY top-loading autoclave and regularly replacing the gasket, your autoclave will give you more than plenty of time to grow your small startup into a thriving multinational.

For a deeper look at both short and long-term costs associated with autoclaves, check out the post “How Much Does an Autoclave Really Cost?

 

Summary

In summary, if you’re a biotech startup or small lab, you’re looking to not only get your operation off the ground but to keep it running smoothly and at low-cost until things really take off.

You’ll want to find that autoclave that’s compact and won’t take up tons of valuable space and can take care of everything, from small glassware to liquid media to bioreactors and other large items.

You’ll also want an autoclave that’s easy to install, easy to maintain, and won’t break the bank with gasket changes and repairs.

If you can take care of all of the above, you and your hard-working co-workers are one step closer to cashing out on those stock options and relaxing on the beach on your private island in the South Pacific.

If you’d like to know more about how TOMY autoclaves can save your startup lots of money and time, please use our contact form, email, or call us at 858-800-3900.

Thank you for visiting and I look forward to assisting you with any questions that you may have!

Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

Saves You Lots

How Much Does an Autoclave Really Cost? (Hint: The Purchase Price Is Just Part of It)

How Much Does an Autoclave Really Cost? (Hint: The Purchase Price Is Just Part of It)

In addition to the original purchase price, long-term maintenance and repairs can add a significant amount to the cost of an autoclave.

Autoclave Costs: Much More Than You Think

Shopping for an autoclave?  Chances are that this is your first time or you’re not satisfied with the autoclave you have and the price you paid for it.  

One of the largest concerns is the cost- if you’ve dealt with other equipment you’ll know that not only initial purchase costs but that ongoing maintenance and repair costs also need to be factored in the equation.   Whether it’s utility costs, cost of replacing door gaskets, and worst of all, costs of repairing that dud of an autoclave that broke way too soon, you’ll be paying more than you expected and in the process, regret the decision that you made on the purchase.

I’ll be covering initial purchase costs, long-term upkeep, and maintenance costs, as well as other factors that ratchet up the costs so that you can know what to expect financially when purchasing an autoclave.

Initial purchase cost

Chances are also that you’re overwhelmed with the tremendous number of choices for autoclaves and you don’t know where to start.  You may have started crawling the web and logging different models and their costs, and choosing one that meets your budget.

If this is your approach and you’re searching first for autoclaves by cost, stop right now, because you’re wasting valuable time, and may end up with an autoclave that won’t meet your needs!

Before starting any search, know what you’re looking for in terms of size, configuration, and features.

Autoclave Size

First of all, you’ll need to know what you’ll be autoclaving and what kind of capacity you’ll need.  Though you may sometimes only autoclave a few pieces of glassware or utensils, other times you’ll need to autoclave many items, and thus, you should think about the maximum amount that you’ll need.  

You’ll then need to figure out the dimensions of these items and how much total space that all the items put together will require.  This is tricky, because of unique shapes, and how different items will fit together.  

A good rule of thumb is to think of the largest item that you’ll be autoclaving and how many of these you’ll need on any given day.  Though height, width, and depth (or diameter) will all be important to take into account, overall, the vertical clearance is likely to be the largest hurdle and thus the most important factor to consider, which differs greatly depending on whether your autoclave is front-loading or top-loading (see the section below).  

No matter what other factors you take into account, make sure to accommodate your largest items and you’ll avoid getting an autoclave that is too small for your needs.

Autoclave Configuration

People often find that they’ll need more space than what a typical microwave-sized benchtop autoclave offers, but aren’t able to invest in a large autoclave that you’ll find in a university lab.

In terms of bang-for-your-buck, this is where top-loading or vertical autoclaves come in handy.  Though autoclave chambers are cylindrical in both front-loading and top-loading autoclaves, in the latter the chamber sits vertically and accommodates stackable baskets.  With these, you can fit a large amount of media inside, including large items like 2-liter bottles or flasks and bioreactors/fermentors.  

If you’re autoclaving tall and large items like bioreactors or fermentors, it is important to know that top-loading autoclaves are the most affordable for accommodating large items, due to the compatibility with the vertically-oriented chamber.  So if you’re looking to do more than just a few vials or bottles, a top-loading type may be your best choice of an autoclave.

Special Features

When looking for an autoclave you’ll also need to consider special features.  One of the main additional features is the vacuum feature.  Whether you’ll need this or not solely depends on what you’ll be autoclaving.  

If you’re autoclaving standard glassware, liquids, or smooth-surfaced items that don’t have hard-to-reach places or air pockets, a standard gravity autoclave will do.  

If you’re autoclaving fabrics, other porous items, or items inside sterile envelopes, you’ll need the vacuum function.  For more information on this please see our vlog on types of autoclaves.

Purchase Cost

Once you know the size, configuration, and necessary special features on your autoclave, you’ll finally be ready to start looking at prices.

As you make your way through, you’ll notice that there’s a pretty large range of prices, and not much consistency in value, ie. what you get for the price you pay.  

I suspect that the reason behind these outrageous prices is that manufacturers know that they can overcharge because people are willing to pay high prices on equipment that they’re familiar with and don’t bother to look outside of what they know.

Don’t ask “how high?” when these outdated manufacturers tell you to jump for their high prices, especially when this equipment doesn’t cut it in terms of capacity and quality.  Would you pay the price of a luxury car for an outdated, underperforming car that your father drove 30 years ago?  If the answer is “no,” then don’t overpay for an outdated autoclave either!

The Price Rule

In the new autoclave market, the basic rule is that if it’s priced above $10,000 and doesn’t have at least a 40L chamber capacity, then don’t even consider it!  If you need special features like a vacuum function, that will add several thousand to the price, but if you’re looking for a standard gravity autoclave, if you’re getting less than a 40-liter capacity, don’t pay over $10,000; it’s pretty much priced way higher than it should be.

Also, consider the configuration– for the same chamber volume,  you’ll fit way more inside a top-loading autoclave, because you’re using the whole chamber, not just the box space built in a sideways cylinder on a front-loading autoclave.

Maintenance Costs

If you’ve ever been in a lab with an autoclave, you’ll know that the costs don’t end once you’ve purchased it.  This includes both maintenance and repair costs, which can be significantly different depending on the autoclave type.

The most common type of autoclave maintenance is a lid gasket change.  This is something that can’t be avoided because the proper operating temperature and pressure depend on a lid gasket in good working condition, free of cracks and deterioration.  Your autoclave’s life also literally depends on a good lid gasket, because steam leaks can damage an autoclave’s electronics and render it useless in a short amount of time if not changed.

The Gasket Cost

Lid gasket replacement costs differ wildly, depending on the material and how often they require changing.  Certain lid gaskets can require changing in as little as one month.  Your cost is basically the lid gasket cost multiplied by the number of times it needs to be changed over the lifetime of your autoclave.  Usually, at around a couple hundred apiece, this can drive your autoclave’s maintenance costs up to thousands of dollars per year!

TOMY SX-Series autoclave lid gaskets are quite unusual, being much thicker and sturdier in build than the flimsy, thin rubber band-like lid gaskets found on many front-loading autoclaves, which are the main culprit in the astronomical maintenance costs of many front-loading autoclaves.  TOMY SX-Series lid gaskets require changing once every 1,000 operating hours, which works out to be once every 1 – 3 years.  Starting at around $550 apiece, compared to the total price for changing the gasket every month on other types of autoclaves, the TOMY lid gasket alone will save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

So, always remember to factor gasket replacements in your maintenance costs, and choose an autoclave that will keep this to a minimum, ideally a couple hundred a year for moderate use and no more than $600 a year for heavy use.

Repair Costs

Autoclaves breaking down and the associated repair costs can be extremely costly.  Not only is this devastating to your overall budget, with so many things to do around the lab it’s simply one of the last things that you will want to deal with.  Because of the numerous mechanisms in certain types of autoclaves and the tremendous heat and pressure that they operate under, autoclave break-downs are quite common.  Some autoclaves, especially large core facility autoclaves seem to be broken as much as they working.

If you have ever dealt with autoclaves being broken you know that it is quite expensive.  It may cost a couple of hundred dollars or more per hour to have a specialist come to diagnose and work on your autoclave.  There are also part costs as well- burnt out heaters and electronics can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to replace.  This can easily add up to several thousand every time your autoclave breaks down.  Just multiply the thousands of dollars a breakdown can cost by the frequency that they break down and you’ll get the long-term cost of repairing your autoclave, which can easily exceed the original purchase price.

Saving on Repair Costs

It’s not only the monetary cost of the repair itself, but the time lost due to the breakdown can have an even more devastating effect on your operation.  Basically, to reduce this cost, you’ll want to go with an autoclave that has a reputation to last and is known for quality and durability.

TOMY SX-Series autoclaves are quite simple in their design with few moving mechanical parts and are built with a sturdy gasket to keep your autoclave running for years.  In Japan, where they’re manufactured, the average lifetime exceeds 15 years, which is quite remarkable because it means that most of the first generation models are still up and running.  By making sure that you’re regularly changing your gasket, you can prevent problems associated with leaking heat and steam and ensure that you’ll be saving money on repairs.  Basically, a small investment in maintenance will go a long way in saving you lots in the future.

Summary

In summary, the cost of your autoclave is the aggregate cost of the purchase price, and costs to maintain and repair your autoclave.  By taking the time to know what features you need, you can easily find a great autoclave that meets these needs at a reasonable cost that will also save you lots on repair and maintenance in the future.

If you’d like to know more about how TOMY autoclaves can save you lots, please use our contact form, email, or call us at 858-800-3900.

Thank you for visiting and I look forward to assisting you with any questions that you may have!

Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

Saves You Lots

Types of Autoclaves (Gravity vs. Vacuum Autoclaves) and Their Advantages

Types of Autoclaves (Gravity vs. Vacuum Autoclaves) and Their Advantages

Types of Autoclaves

Autoclaves function primarily through either gravity or vacuum-induced or pre-vacuum (pre vac) sterilization methods, though some types of autoclaves combine both methods to sterilize. Though both types of autoclaves sterilize through high-temperature steam and use pressure as a means to allow steam to displace ambient air in the chamber to penetrate sterilization media, how these mechanisms occur differ and thus, are more conducive to certain types of media over others.  This article will outline the basic function of these autoclaves and list the types of sterilization media most associated with each type of autoclave.

Gravity autoclaving, also known as gravity displacement autoclaving is the most basic form and is suitable for sterilizing the most common laboratory media, including steel utensils, glassware, and bio-hazardous waste. Gravity-induced autoclaving involves pumping steam into the autoclave chamber, which displaces the ambient air and forces it out of exhaust valves so that the remaining steam can sterilize the contents. This mechanism is advantageous in the simplicity of its design and lack of dependency on peripheral mechanisms to displace ambient air with steam, making these types of autoclaves more affordable and dependable. The majority of autoclave media or items to be sterilized are simple in design and do not contain spaces or obstacles for steam to penetrate within, thus the steam displacement function is ample for proper sterilization.  It is for these reasons that gravity autoclaves are the most common types of autoclaves in the market and are usually the recommended type of autoclave for most uses.

On the other hand, vacuum autoclaving, also known as pre-vacuum autoclaving or sterilizing is more suited in cases where air cannot be easily removed from sterilization media.  This may include large or porous items such as animal cages and bedding sterilization as well as wrapped surgical kits.  The vacuum function in these autoclaves allows deeper sterilization of the contents, as it completely evacuates the ambient air within, allowing high-temperature steam to penetrate and sterilize areas that would normally be occupied by ambient air, and can be more efficient at sterilizing certain items with hard-to-reach areas within.

Autoclave Media & the Appropriate Autoclave Type

As mentioned above, your choice of an autoclave system largely depends on your autoclave media, ie. the items to be sterilized.  Overall, steam sterilization is highly dependable, effective, fast, and non-toxic, and offers an inexpensive way to rapidly heat and penetrate the chamber’s contents, including appropriately contained liquids.  However, this method cannot sterilize powders or oils, and can only work with heat and moisture-resistant goods.  Keeping this in mind, below is a summary of the primary types of media used by gravity and vacuum-autoclave types.

Gravity autoclaves are appropriate for sterilizing non-porous items (i.e. those with a hard surface):

  • Most metals, particularly stainless steel surgical instruments and lab utensils
  • Polypropylene Pyrex® or Type I borosilicate glassware
  • Biohazard waste
  • Unwrapped goods

Vacuum (pre and post) are appropriate for sterilizing large or porous items:

  • Media solutions in appropriate containers, such as tissue culture flasks with loose caps for a steam autoclave cycle
  • Pipette tips and other high-density polyethylene products, such as syringes
  • Wrapped dry items that can trap air
  • Animal cages and bedding


Choosing an Autoclave

Choosing the right autoclave for your purposes requires you to not only assess the type of media to autoclave, but also throughput capacity, available lab space, and access to utilities including electricity (with proper power output), water and house steam.

Due to the simplicity of the gravity-displacement mechanism, which requires an autoclaving chamber, a heating mechanism, intake and exhaust valves, there is great flexibility in design for gravity autoclaves, including front and top-loading types.

The top-loading type autoclave is particularly advantageous, as it allows for maximum loading space, minimum floor space requirement and does not require any building steam connection, as the vertical chamber design allows for water to rest at the bottom, which in turn is turned into steam through a heating element located at the bottom. Note that many autoclaves on the market, especially compact top-loading autoclaves often require no more than access to the proper electrical outlet type and enough space to place your autoclave.

Gravity autoclaves are also particularly advantageous when used in geographical areas of high humidity or higher altitudes as they consistently retain the relationship between pressure and heat within the autoclave chamber and overcome differences in boiling points at higher altitudes by opening and closing the exhaust valve.  Known as high altitude autoclaves, their functions allow for proper sterilization to occur in laboratories and hospitals located in markets with high altitude terrains.

Regarding the size of your autoclave, to limit energy use and costs especially for smaller labs, it is important to buy the proper size autoclave that will accommodate the equipment that needs sterilizing, while not going overcapacity. For this, several autoclaves range between 50 L and 70 L, which tend to strike a good balance between relatively high capacity and low energy use.

For more information on autoclaves that may be the right match for your laboratory, please have a look at information on the Tomy SX-Series Autoclaves.

Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

Saves You Lots

Top-Loading Autoclaves for Bioreactor and Fermentor Sterilization

Top-Loading Autoclaves for Bioreactor and Fermentor Sterilization

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

Autoclave Sterilization for Bioreactors and Fermentors

Autoclaves can be an effective means of sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors, due to the ability to subject the entire contraption to high heat and pressure, thereby killing unwanted organisms completely and definitively without using caustic and potentially contaminating chemicals. The materials from which bioreactor and fermentation vessels are made, such as stainless steel and glass are ideal for autoclave sterilization, as they can tolerate high-temperatures necessary to sterilize and prevent fouling. For these reasons, autoclaves are the ideal choice for sterilization to prevent contamination from unwanted organisms, thereby protecting mammalian and insect cells and tissues cultured in bioreactors, as well as bacteria, yeast, algae and other microorganisms for fermentors.

Autoclaving Effectively and Affordably

Though autoclaving is the most effective means of sterilization, for many organizations, especially smaller labs in biotech start-ups and breweries, an autoclave can be a large, expensive, and time-consuming piece of equipment to own and maintainThe configuration of many autoclave sterilizers would require the purchase of a very large (and expensive) model to accommodate even a small to medium-sized bioreactor or fermenter. Fortunately, there are autoclaves that are specially-designed to accommodate and effectively sterilize larger items such as bioreactors and fermentors, while being inexpensive, compact, and easy to install.

Top-loading type autoclaves are ideal for sterilizing bioreactors and fermentors typically found in small laboratories, due to the design, utility, and affordability of these types of autoclaves.

Design

  • Top loading autoclaves have chambers that are cylindrical in shape and vertically-aligned, making them perfect for accommodating bioreactors and fermentors, which are most often cylindrical in shape as well.
  • 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.  For questions about your bioreactor/fermentor compatibility with TOMY autoclaves, please contact us.

Utility

  • The vertical configuration of top-loading autoclaves makes loading/unloading of bioreactors and fermentors easy (and maintain vertical alignment during loading and sterilization cycle), especially compared to smaller front-loading autoclaves. Using 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 for 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 for their 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.

Affordability

  • 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 in high loading capacity for sterilization of bioreactors and fermenters.
  • Due to the simplicity of design, reliability, and low maintenance needs, top-loading autoclaves are more affordable in terms of long-term upkeep costs.

 

As illustrated, top-loading autoclaves can be both an effective and affordable means to sterilize bioreactors and fermentors, even for smaller labs with limited resources.

For pricing and questions concerning TOMY SX-Series autoclaves and the compatibility of your bioreactor/fermentor please email us, call us at 858-800-3900 or contact us.

Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

Saves You Lots

Proper Sterilization and Disposal of Biohazardous Waste in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research and Testing

Proper Sterilization and Disposal of Biohazardous Waste in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research and Testing

Autoclave sterilization prior to disposing of potentially infected laboratory bio waste is necessary in order to inactivate coronavirus (2019 nCov / SARS-CoV-2) and prevent spread of COVID-19 to laboratory workers, waste management personnel and the general public.

As a distributor of laboratory autoclave sterilizers, which can be used for decontamination of biowaste to prevent dispersal of biohazardous material, we have been closely monitoring developments with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV / SARS-CoV-2), also known as COVID-19.

Handling, processing and disposal of waste thought to be infected with coronavirus (2019-nCoV / SARS-CoV-2), including but not limited to coronavirus (COVID-19) Real-Time PCR assays (testing kits) requires strict adherence to laboratory biosafety protocol as outlined by organizations including the WHO (World Health Organization), CDC (Center for Disease Control) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Please find select information and resources on laboratory biosafety related to the proper sterilization and disposal of waste containing coronavirus (2019-nCoV / SARS-CoV-2) specimens, PCR Assays (testing kits) and other disposable items used in coronavirus (COVID-19) laboratory research and testing.

Autoclaves and Safe Disposal of Laboratory Biowaste 

As outlined in numerous guidelines covering the safe disposal of laboratory biowaste, the use of autoclave sterilizers to deactivate pathogens and decontaminate potentially infectious waste prior to disposal is integral in preventing the spread of disease to laboratory workers, waste management personnel and the general public.

The importance of biowaste sterilization is reflected in the core facility design requirements in the WHO’s Laboratory biosafety guidance related to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which states that “appropriate methods for decontamination of waste, for example disinfectants and autoclaves, must be available in proximity to the laboratory.”¹       

As a fundamental objective of biosafety programs to contain potentially harmful pathogens, in the CDC’s Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, it is recommended that laboratories of all BSLs (biosafety levels) not only create secondary barriers which include separating laboratory work areas from public access, making available decontamination facilities (e.g., autoclave), and hand washing facilities

Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is classified BSL 2, for which autoclave sterilization is recommended for any waste potentially containing it. Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is classified BSL 2, for which numerous authoritative sources include autoclave sterilization as a requirement prior to disposal for laboratory waste potentially containing it.  Source: NIH NIAID 

Managing Waste Associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For laboratories handling specimens potentially containing coronavirus (2019-nCoV / SARS-CoV-2), one of the most critical biosafety tasks is managing waste that includes but not limited to real-time PCR assays (test kits) and other disposables including gloves, pipette tips, and vessels containing specimens.  Noting the principle that all samples should be handled as if they are infectious³, following the proper biosafety precautions includes the decontamination of all waste that has come into contact with all specimens prior to disposal.

At Biosafety Level (BSL) 2, the advised level for handling and processing of COVID-19 test specimens potentially containing coronavirus (2019-nCoV / SARS-CoV-2)⁴, numerous sources cite the use of autoclaves and other decontamination methods to treat bio waste before disposal. 

In Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) the CDC instructs “handle laboratory waste from testing suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient specimens as all other biohazardous waste in the laboratory.”⁵  According to CDC BSL 2 guidelines, all laboratory waste, including all cultures, stocks and other potentially infectious materials should be treated via autoclave, chemical disinfection, incineration, or other validated decontamination method before disposal.⁶

In some cases, guidelines explicitly endorse the use of autoclaves to treat laboratory waste before disposal, including the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA, which clearly states on its COVID-19 safety guideline page to “use an autoclave to inactivate infectious material in all waste prior to disposal.”

Autoclaves for Biosafety in Waste Management

As outlined, numerous guidelines endorse the use of autoclaves to inactivate potentially infectious laboratory waste prior to disposal, as part of creating secondary barriers that prevent infectious disease from spreading to laboratory workers, waste management personnel and the general public.  When moving to a higher BSL, the proximity of autoclaves moves from within the facility, to within the laboratory to being a double-door pass through autoclave adjacent to a Class III biological safety cabinet.⁸  

This positive relationship between higher safety needs and the proximity of the autoclave may suggest that the closer an autoclave is to the area in which potentially infectious pathogens are being handled, the safer it is in preventing the potential spread of the virus within and outside the laboratory and potentially infecting countless individuals.

Laboratories in immediate need of a primary or secondary autoclave may be interested in learning about TOMY top-loading autoclaves.  Due to their compact size, portability, setup that requires no installation and ability to operate anywhere in proximity to a source of power, they can be placed next to a biosafety cabinet or at the end of a workbench in any laboratory.

For information on features, pricing, and availability, please email, call 858-800-3900 or use the contact form below to contact an autoclave expert.

Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

Saves You Lots

 

 

 

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

 

Footnotes

¹https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/laboratory-biosafety-novel-coronavirus-version-1-1.pdf?sfvrsn=912a9847_2
²https://www.cdc.gov/labs/pdf/CDC-BiosafetyMicrobiologicalBiomedicalLaboratories-2009-P.PDF p.23
³PrimerdesignTM Ltd Coronavirus (COVID-19) genesig® Real-Time PCR assay Instructions for Use (IFU)https://www.genesig.com/assets/files/Path_Coronavirus_COVID_19_CE_IVD_IFU_Issue_10.pdf?timestamp=1582079599
Frequently Asked Questions about Laboratory Biosafety and SARS-CoV-2 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/biosafety-faqs.html
Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/lab/lab-biosafety-guidelines.html
Based on CDC Biosafety Level 2 guidelines concerning Laboratory Facilities (Secondary Barriers) which states that “A method for decontaminating all laboratory wastes should be available in the facility (e.g., autoclave, chemical disinfection, incineration, or other validated decontamination method).” Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories 5th Edition https://www.cdc.gov/labs/pdf/CDC-BiosafetyMicrobiologicalBiomedicalLaboratories-2009-P.PDF p.38
U.S. Department of Labor OSHA Covid-19 Informational page.  https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html#laboratory
From autoclave use in BSL 2, BSL 3 and BSL 4 guidelines.  CDC Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories 5th Edition https://www.cdc.gov/labs/pdf/CDC-BiosafetyMicrobiologicalBiomedicalLaboratories-2009-P.PDF