In a 2017 interview with the Campus Energy and Sustainability Podcast My Green Lab executive director Allison Paradise noted that up to 50 percent of a lab’s funding is sucked up by utility and maintenance costs. Autoclaves are a non-negligible contributor to these expenses. For example, on average, a single college campus autoclave uses as much electricity as 115 computer monitors–even though the autoclave is run only once or twice each day, and the computer monitors left running 24/7.
Although there are ways to minimize resource use with your existing autoclave, often the problem is fundamental to the type of autoclave you have. Medical-grade sterilizers (i.e., ones that are designed for use in a hospital or clinic, not a research lab) must meet specific FDA medical-device standards that tend to prevent the units from operating efficiently in a lab setting.
The performance difference between medical and research autoclaves in a laboratory setting can be stark: In 2016 the University of California (Riverside) replaced just one of their existing medical-grade lab autoclaves with a comparable research-grade unit. Over the next ten months they found that the research-grade unit used 83% less energy and 97% less water than their remaining medical-grade models.
Want to learn more? Our water and energy consumption whitepapers explain how your lab can make a huge leap in sustainability by selecting the right autoclave.