Rectangular-chambered medical autoclaves with bulky steam jackets were all we had in North America for decades. Designed for round-the-clock use at hospitals, the classic autoclave is undeniably robust and good at what it does, sterilizing trays of surgical equipment and supplies, and making medical waste safe at all hours. But this muscle comes at a cost above and beyond the price tag of buying a new unit: Medical-grade autoclaves are always on standby, using water and electricity around the clock (Laboratory Design | Volume 20 | No.6). This practice is acceptable in a hospital setting, but it’s downright wasteful in a typical research lab.
The initial and ongoing expense of medical-grade autoclaves has often either locked labs into a big autoclave investment, forced them go with cheaper medical units that offered fewer control options, or left them using old-school “stove-top” sterilizers. Research-Grade autoclaves offer the best of both worlds: they can run complex cycles (with repeats, custom heating/cooling ramps, etc.) and handle challenging loads, but idle cold, fully shut down over nights/weekends/holidays, and never waste a drop of water when not running a cycle.
Research-grade autoclaves don’t require a steam jacket or any external steam generator, yet they offer the most advanced fully programmable control system with a simple cylindrical pressure chamber design. As a result, they cost less to build and install, use significantly less water and energy, and cost far less to maintain.