v How to autoclave at high altitudes - a guide | TOMY

Last Updated on June 4, 2021

According to the WHO Laboratory Safety Manual (3rd Edition, p27), autoclaves are essential laboratory equipment for the disinfection and sterilization of tools and biohazard products. However, sterilizing at higher altitude geographical locations with an autoclave presents special issues. Due to the decrease in pressure and lower boiling points of higher altitude areas, a high-altitude autoclave, ie. an autoclave that is programmed to accommodate the relationship between pressure and the various state of gases and liquids at various altitudes must be used. High-altitude reprogramming is necessary for all autoclaves when operating at 1,200m or more above sea level, which can inevitably lead to improper sterilization and safety issues.

Saturated steam can be produced at temperature and pressure levels where water and steam can coexist, which also includes high altitude areas.  Autoclaves that are programmed to control the three elements of steam sterilization–time, humidity, and temperature maintain a constant relationship between pressure and temperature, ensuring that no imbalances that would significantly affect the sterilization process.  This mechanism is combined with the system’s automatic fine exhaust adjuster ensures that the pressure and temperature levels can be maintained, ensuring the proper conditions for sterilization and the elimination of microorganisms.

Boiling points differ at high altitudes too, which can affect a normal autoclave’s electric valve and prevent the chamber’s pressure from rising, which causes sterilization failure. The unique automatic fine exhaust of this system will detect the temperature and pressure. If the temperature/pressure balance is skewed, the system will exhaust residual air to maintain saturated steam close to an equilibrium state in the chamber and create a reliable sterilization environment.  By adjusting the exhaust valve opening and closing temperatures, the differences in altitudes and boiling points can be controlled for and the appropriate temperature and pressure rises can be secured with this high-altitude autoclave.

In summary, when purchasing an autoclave for use in a high-altitude environment, it is necessary to purchase a model designed for high altitude use.  These models are programmed in such a way that pressure and temperature relationships can be maintained in a particular high-altitude area (programming varies according to altitude and atmospheric pressure).

Tomy offers high altitude reprogramming starting at models used for altitudes exceeding 1,000 meters above sea level.  If you are interested in learning about Tomy autoclave high altitude reprogramming, please use our contact form or reach out to a Tomy representative at [email protected].


Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

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