v What is an Autoclave? And How Autoclaves Work | TOMY

Last Updated on June 4, 2021

What is an autoclave?  An autoclave is a piece of equipment that sterilizes instruments and solid / liquid media, including biological waste matter through the application of highly saturated steam.

Autoclaves vary in size, shape and functionality, however, their application of high temperature steam and pressure is a unifying characteristic.

What is an Autoclave?

An autoclave is a piece of equipment that sterilizes instruments and solid/liquid media, including biological waste matter through the application of highly saturated steam. Autoclaves are used in laboratories, medical facilities, industrial settings, and other places that require sterilization, ie. inactivation of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms. The need to maintain a sterile environment also requires the use of autoclaves in public facilities that include but are not limited to aesthetic salons, tattoo parlors, and veterinary practices. 

Autoclaves are most effective in deactivating microorganisms, some of which may be resistant to detergents and other sterilizing solutions. Though the autoclave was said to be invented by Charles Chamberland in 1884, humans were aware of the sterilizing effect of heat and pressure before then and prototype devices that used these forces in the later 17th Century. Autoclaves have since evolved to incorporate many features for safety, increased effectiveness, automation, and convenience.

Autoclaves are a necessary piece of equipment in just about any laboratory, healthcare, or industrial facility that requires equipment and media to be free of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast. Though autoclaves vary in shape, size, and functionality, the basic mechanism of using high heat and steam under high pressure is a unifying characteristic.

How Do Autoclaves Work?

Items meant to be sterilized are placed within the autoclave’s sealed chamber. These items are then subjected to highly pressured steam (with the temperature ranging from 105-135°C) for an amount of time. Autoclaves allow heat and pressure to build within the chamber and are equipped with safety mechanisms to contain and release pressure to maintain safe levels during the cycle.

Autoclaves are not only designed to safely contain pressure during the sterilization cycle but to remain closed during their operation and allow for users to remove items only after the sterilization cycle is complete and the temperature and pressure return to safe levels. Autoclaves are usually equipped with temperature and timer controls to allow users to set the proper setting for any given autoclaving application.

Tomy SX-Series Autoclave Sterilizer

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