Autoclaves essentially “take the pressure off” medical staff by using high pressure and high temperature for the sterilization of a variety of materials and tools, as well as biomedical waste. Their popularity in the medical industry is clear: Celitron’s small, medium, and large autoclaves are present in more than 40 countries all over the world.
In this article, you will learn more about how autoclaves work, their benefits, what you need to look out for when using them, as well as how you can decide what kind of steam sterilizer you should choose for your medical facility!
An autoclave’s ability to use high pressure and temperature makes it one of the most popular sterilization methods
Sterilization is not a process that medical facilities can avoid, since all hospitals and clinics need to find solution that helps them fight the propagation of infectious bacteria and germs in their environment. Traditional cleaning and disinfection are not always up to this task since they cannot destroy all forms of potentially hazardous foreign particles.
This is where sterilization comes into play. From all the methods available – including the still much used incinerators – autoclaves are definitely among the most popular ones.
Why? Because moist heat in the form of saturated steam, coupled with high pressure and temperatures ranging well over 100 degrees make autoclaves an extremely dependable way to effectively get rid of heat-resistant bacteria, and prevent the risk of infections spreading within and outside the walls of a hospital or clinic.
Also, unlike incinerators, which can only be used to destroy waste, the use of autoclaves allows for the reuse of sterilized medical equipment like surgical tools.
This is how autoclaves use pressure and temperature in the favor of sterilization
The principle behind the steam sterilization is about exposing each medical item inside the closed chamber of the machine to direct contact with steam: this also needs to be done at the right temperature, a high enough pressure, and for enough time.
This mean that the steam sterilization process done by autoclaves consists of 4 main factors:
By using a powerful vacuum pump, an autoclave will first clear all the air from its chamber and raise the pressure level inside. This vacuum environment will enable the steam to better penetrate and clean all surfaces of the load inside. By raising the pressure inside, an autoclave can also raise the boiling point of water, which in this case is the steam that will come into contact with the load inside the chamber.
With the steam’s temperature now ranging between 121 and 134 degrees, there is no microorganism that can resist this heat, meaning you can be guaranteed that your autoclave will destroy all potentially harmful foreign particles.
Of course, this elevated pressure and temperature also needs to be kept up for a certain amount of time for the steam sterilization process to take effect. Depending on the autoclave used and the size of the load inside, this usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
What else is needed for autoclaves to reach optimal temperature and pressure levels for sterilization?
The pressure and quality of the steam is also a key-factor, since this is what autoclaves use to sterilize medical equipment and waste. In most cases, even in medical environment, the building’s boiler system will probably do the job coupled with Celitron’s highly effective class B autoclaves.
However, if your boiler cannot provide the minimum pressure required by an autoclave, or if the building’s old plumbing or poor quality dirties the steam, you will need another source of steam.
An electric clean steam generator like Celitron’s E-200 model can provide high amounts of “clean” steam that is free from all foreign particles. Also, regardless of the quality of the steam, it will also improve the performance of your autoclave and reduce the duration of the steam sterilization process!
For example, with the use of Celitron’s generator, the performance of your autoclave could jump from 2 kW to as high as 72 kW depending on the model you choose!
What to watch out for when using a high-temperature and high-pressure autoclave for the sterilization of medical tools
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions, of course! Still, here are some examples about what materials are compatible with autoclaves, and which are not:
Materials you CAN treat with autoclaves:
- Surgical Instruments
- Pipette tips
- Stainless steel
- Tissue Culture Flasks
- Certain types of medical waste like discarded vaccines
- Polypropylene (secondary containers)
Materials you CANNOT treat with autoclaves:
- Non-stainless steel
- Chlorides, sulphates
- Chlorine, hypochlorite, bleach
- Acids and organic solvent
Celitron’s autoclaves: making the most out of temperature and pressure to create one of the best methods for sterilization
Our steam sterilizers allow you to reap a heap of benefits.
Celitron’s class B steam sterilizers (the highest rank on the market right now) can be operated right at the site of your medical facility, are very easy to use, and are also relatively inexpensive to use thanks to advanced water and energy-saving systems. They also emit zero harmful substances, can be used in lab environments with the use of an electric clean steam generator, and rapidly penetrate all kinds of fabrics.
They can treat even the most complex of loads with a variety of different sterilization cycles, such as:
- unwrapped and wrapped goods
They are also equipped with extra safety measures that help prevent unwanted incidents: until the autoclave’s temperature and pressure levels aren’t back to normal, and the sterilization process isn’t done, you will not be able to open the door of the machine.
All in all, autoclave pressure and temperature play a large role in the effectiveness of sterilization, but these are not the only factors you should look out for: class, size, and even steam source are aspects you should consider when choosing a steam sterilizer for your medical facility.
Want to learn even more about them? You can check out the specifications of all of Celitron’s high-pressure and high-temperature autoclaves on our website!