Autoclave functions and uses: introduction to steam sterilization


While most people may have never heard the term “autoclave” before, autoclaves have a wide use in many industries. An autoclave is basically a pressure chamber used to carry out any process that requires highly elevated temperature and pressure, such as medical waste disposal, and/or medical equipment sterilization. By using the power of steam, it can maintain a temperature that is too high for any microorganism (viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and so on) to survive.

This is how all the surgeons, dentists, tattoo artists, and even nail salons can use the same tools over and over again on different patients/customers, without any risk of an infection being passed from one person to another.

The first autoclave steam sterilizer was invented around 1884, by a French microbiologist named Charles Chamberland. Its birth came from the need for a more reliable sterilization method to be used in medicine: until that point, open flaming was the most prominent method available to medical facilities. The benefits of autoclaving became clear very soon after their first application, and have become an essential part of the equipment of any modern hospital or clinic.

So what are the most popular autoclave uses?

The most popular uses of an autoclave can be extremely varied, and aren’t nearly narrowed down to one area. Examples include:

  • microbiology
  • laboratories
  • prosthetics
  • dentistries
  • all sorts of clinics (e.g. veterinary clinics)
  • pharmacies
  • hospitals
  • central sterile supply departments
  • operating theaters
  • medical centers
  • body piercings
  • tattoo parlors

Due to this, it is more than understandable, that any article serving as an introduction to the functions of an autoclave machine should mention specific examples of the types of autoclaves being used in everyday situations. Which is exactly what we will do.

On Celitron’s website, you’ll find two main categories of steam sterilizers:

  • large autoclaves
  • medium autoclaves.

The functions and uses of a large autoclave

The purpose of a large medical autoclave is to offer the greatest capacity and performance possible thanks to its size and technical functions. The Azteca A series is a prime example for the uses of such autoclaves in hospitals and their central sterile supply departments (CSSD for short),but they are also applicable in microbiology and other pharmaceutical fields. Depending on the model you choose, the functions of these large autoclaves are backed up with capacities ranging from 110 to 880 liters.

To learn even more about the parts and uses of the Azteca A autoclaves, and how you can benefit from using them, just take a look at the medical products on our website!

The functions and uses of a medium autoclave

As for the other main type of autoclave, the functions of medium steam sterilizers like the Azteca AC family mainly serve the purpose of dental and clinical waste disposal, but don’t be fooled by their smaller size. Thanks to Celitron’s ingenious technology (which is the result of more than 20 years’ worth of research and know-how),medium-sized autoclaves are more compact than their “big brothers”, but this loss in size does in no way result in a loss of quality. Their capacity ranges from 75 to 200 liters, so besides hospital, even smaller dentistries and clinics can benefit greatly from using the Azteca Ac steam sterilizers.

If you have a smaller medical facility, you can definitely profit from choosing to learn more about the functions of medium autoclaves.

A list of autoclave part and their functions – how to use an autoclave sterilizer

  • Chamber. The chamber itself is a fundamental part of any type of autoclave. It consists of an inner chamber and an outer jacket. In hospitals and laboratories “jacketed” autoclave chambers are also filled with steam, meaning it puts less of a burden on the inner chamber by reducing the condensation inside it. This also results in a reduction of the time it takes for the sterilization cycle to finish.
  • Controls. Just like a common microwave or oven, all autoclaves have their own control panel. Of course, a machine as sophisticated as an autoclave steam sterilizer doesn’t have the exact same controller interface as household device. Basically, the sterilization cycle follows a sort of recipe provided by the autoclave’s software, which launches a process consisting of several phases.
  • Thermostatic trap. The trap inside an autoclave is a device that serves to allow water and air to get out of the chamber. It is always a vital component of the most professionally designed autoclaves.
  • Safety valve. Since autoclaves operate using highly elevated pressure, they absolutely have to be fitted with a variety safety measures and a sturdy construction. The safety valve is basically a fail-safe device that protects the user from danger if all other electronic procedures fail to function properly. Because of its essential role in safety, the safety valve always needs to be inspected and tested beforehand.
  • Cooling system. Before the waste-water coming from the autoclave can enter the drain piping, it has to be cooled down to avoid damage caused by the heat.
  • Vacuum system. Present in only certain types of autoclaves, the vacuum system serves to replace all the air inside the chamber with steam.
  • Steam generator. Also known as a boiler, a steam generator’s purpose is to provide a source of steam for the autoclave when there is no central source available.

An extra note about the most important autoclave parts and uses

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question “what is the function of an autoclave”, then this question can be answered quite simply: it is to provide high-pressure, high-temperature steam to sterilize medical waste and prepare it for disposal. It can also kill all bacteria and spores on certain pieces of medical equipment, allowing them to be used again.

Of course, none of this matters, if you don’t have an electric steam generator boiler. The Clean Steam E Series consists of fully automatic steam generators that provide the resources for your chosen autoclave: saturated, dry, stable, and high-quality steam. They are extremely easy to adapt and integrate into all types of autoclaves, and they do not emit any harmful substances, making them a much more eco-friendly choice compared to incineration.

All in all, if you want the full picture about the functions of an autoclave, you will also need to read about this vital autoclave part!

See All Autoclaves

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