The concept of the autoclave is not something new to anyone who has been faced with working with laboratory-based research. However, the autoclave’s purpose is not just to sterilize equipment, but also to quickly and effectively contain any type of bacteria or other contamination.
Autoclaves are widely used across laboratories and research institutes to sterilize liquids, solids, and other lab instruments. In addition, most autoclaves are used for handling, storing, and sterilizing laboratory chemicals. However, to make the best use of a laboratory autoclave, you first need to understand some basics about its working and application.
What is a Laboratory Autoclave?
Research laboratories can be considered a perfect environment for the growth of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microbes. However, with that said, there is no way to completely prevent or eliminate bacterial contamination from your lab. This is where the autoclave comes into play to sterilize whatever needs to be cleaned up.
A Laboratory Autoclave effectively keeps dangerous microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and others out of the working vessel. In addition, it needs to be able to step up the temperatures inside the vessel so that germs are killed quickly and efficiently. It also consists of several components, such as pumps, heaters, pressure sensors, and isolation valves.
There are different types of autoclaves, meaning it is not only used to concentrate heat in a specific vessel. Different autoclaves are used to process various materials in the process of sterilization. These types of autoclaves include rotary, pneumatic, and steam autoclaves. The working process in every autoclave is quite similar.
First, the equipment is placed inside the chamber and heated up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) for 10 minutes for every 1,000 pounds (500 kg) of air pressure on the autoclave’s valve.
The temperature should be maintained at this level for 15 minutes after the cycle has ended. After the cycle is finished, the equipment in the chamber is cooled to room temperature. Then, it will be ready for use.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Autoclave
Autoclaves are considered an effective means to sterilize various lab instruments. In fact, a well-maintained autoclave can keep lab equipment sterile for up to three months without requiring additional cleaning or sterilization.
- There are some disadvantages when it comes to using autoclaves. One of these is that you must ensure that your autoclave has been maintained properly before putting your trust in it. If your autoclave has not been maintained, it can pose a risk to you and the people working with your equipment.
- Autoclaves may also be quite expensive and only useful for large-scale projects. However, this is a common misconception as some small-scale autoclaves can still be bought at a fraction of the cost of their larger counterparts.
Therefore, while using an autoclave is required in any laboratory filled with chemicals, you must ensure that your autoclave is well maintained before using it for the first time on any school project or your own research.
Why do Laboratories use Autoclave sterilizers?
Every laboratory uses an autoclave sterilizer in its facility. It protects the user and other interested parties from bacterial growth or contamination risks. Here are a few benefits of using autoclave sterilizers in laboratories:
Maintain Hygienic Environment
Any medical, engineering, or scientific setting requires that cleanliness be maintained by all involved. Contamination could significantly negatively impact a project or operation at any time on any day.
Prevent Loss of Patient Data
Accidents sometimes happen in a medical context. This is especially true when handling sensitive and identifiable health information.
One of the features of any good autoclave sterilizer is that it prevents contamination from entering the chamber during its working. It also keeps any parts of equipment inside it sterilized as part of its function.
It’s always best to take precautionary measures to avoid any incidents and make sure to keep the working environment neat and infection-free. An autoclave sterilizer can be the best tool to ensure a safe working space for everyone.