What is an autoclave, and how does steam sterilization work?


Autoclaves, steam sterilization…if you work in the medical industry, you have probably heard of these terms before. And if you have not, then Celitron’s next article will be of even more use to you. Hospitals, operating theaters, CSSDs, biolabs, and even smaller clinics use steam sterilizers to make their work easier, and to ensure the safety of patients and staff alike. But how do they work exactly? Is steam sterilization really more effective than other methods? What kind of differences are there among the operation of different autoclaves?

Read on, and you shall find out!

What is an autoclave? How does it work?

While autoclaves are used in a wide variety of areas including tattoo shops and piercing parlors, they are most known for their increasingly important presence in the medical industry. As a matter of fact, the invention of the first autoclave is credited to Charles Chamberland in 1879, who saw a need for a more reliable method of sterilization to ensure the safety of medical procedures, and greatly reduce the risks of infections that may come from the tools and equipment that were used in the treatment of patients.

Modern autoclaves also serve a dual purpose, as they are capable of sterilizing medical waste as well, making them an essential part in its pre-disposal treatment. Anything that comes out of the autoclave will be fully sterilized, free of infectious materials, and can be stored, transported, and disposed of like regular waste, without the usual risks that come with untreated biomedical waste.

As for how it works, that also depends on the class of autoclave you are using, but the main resource used by these machines will always be steam. Aside from the house boiler, the source of this steam can also be supplied by an electric clean steam generator if the water quality of the building is not up to medical standards, but it can also help increase the efficiency of the autoclave, and reduce the time it needs to complete its sterilization cycle by automatically providing the machine with a great supply of steam.

1. How does a class N autoclave work?

The simplest category of autoclaves that are ideal if you only need to sterilize flat medical tools like scalpels, but they are unable to sterilize other types of loads. They can only remove a portion of the air inside their chamber through gravity.

2. How does a class S autoclave work?

This category of mid-tier autoclave uses a wall of steam denser than air and repeats the process three times to make sure all the air within the machine’s chamber is extracted. Porous and bagged products can be treated, but textile items are still out of the question.

3. How does a class B autoclave work?

The versatility of this high-tier autoclave makes it the ideal choice for large medical facilities and smaller clinics alike. By using a powerful vacuum pump, they can ensure the perfect environment for steam sterilization, as this allows for a much more efficient, and faster way to clear all air within the chamber, allowing the steam to reach every single part of the load inside. They can sterilize even the most complex loads, such as porous and wrapped goods, and prions. Celitron only manufactures the highest class of category B autoclaves.

How does steam sterilization work?

If you are using a B class autoclave, the steam sterilization process will allow it to absolutely destroy all microorganisms present on the surface of the load inside, including viruses and fungi present in medications and liquids, bacterial spores, prions, protozoans, and heat-resistant bacteria.

The reason it can achieve such efficiency, is that the temperature of the steam used in the sterilization process ranges between 121 and 134 degrees Celsius. By removing the air inside the machine and raising the pressure, the autoclave also raises the boiling point of water, allowing it to kill all manners of foreign materials.

This makes it infinitely more effective than usual cleaning and disinfection routines that are part of waste management system, as well as much more practical and environmentally friendly than incinerators.

Steam sterilization with Celitron’s autoclaves: comparison of different models and how they work

Our autoclaves all provide the same level of reliable efficiency that you can expect from a premium B class autoclave, with some added bonuses. The main difference lies in their size and chamber capacity.

1. How does a large autoclave work?

The Azteca A Series by Celitron uses a completely automatized steam sterilization process that makes it extremely easy to use: the operation can be launched with the push of a few buttons, and afterwards, all that is left to do for you is to collect the load. Extra safety procedures also make this process easier, as the door of this large autoclave cannot be opened while temperature and pressure levels are not back to normal.

With the help of advanced water and energy saving systems, it can be operated in a cost-effective way, while simultaneously lessening the burden on the environment. Depending on the size of the load inside, it can complete the steam sterilization cycle in about 20 minutes.

Its large size makes it the ideal choice for large medical facilities that need all the help they can get: the capacity of the Azteca A Series models ranges from 110 to 880 liters.

2. How does a medium autoclave work?

With a respectable size and capacity that ranges from 75 to 200 liters, the Azteca AC Series can still be used a secondary autoclave by hospitals, but this medium-sized steam sterilizer is also perfect for dental clinics. It works virtually the same way as the larger models and can be customized with various accessories to fit your needs even better.

3. How does a small autoclave work?

The most compact B class tabletop autoclave for smaller clinics has a 25-liter chamber capacity. It does not trade its small size for efficiency and provides the same reliable results as the bigger models. With its stainless-steel cabinet and touch-screen display, it is as sturdy as it is user-friendly.

All in all, while autoclaves can be used in many different industries, if you intend to choose one for medical purposes, you will definitely need a model that can make full use of the benefits of steam sterilization. Celitron’s class B autoclaves are already present in many medical facilities around the world. If you need more information about what an autoclave is and how it works, you can always check out our website for more information. Choose the model that fits your capacity needs and enjoy a high level of steam sterilization that leaves no room for germs and bacteria!

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