Steam Autoclaves: The Right Sterilization Method For the Right Job
While each of these has its place in industry, steam-based heat sterilization (from steam autoclaves) is by far the most flexible and efficient technique for most research and industrial settings. For example, although irradiation is popular for increasing the shelf-life of fresh foods in large industrial processing facilities, expensive equipment, dangerous fuel, and the terrible cost of a mishap are more than a little worrisome. Toxic gas sterilization is likewise vital to processing heat-sensitive items, but is a high-cost, high-risk technique. Among the most popular agents used is ethylene oxide, which is flammable, highly explosive when mixed with air, and a known carcinogen. On the other end of the scale are chemical solutions. Many of these are as benign as a restaurant bleach bucket or the jar of blue Barbicide at a hair salon. But chemical baths have very limited applications: they are great for sterilizing non-ferrous metal instruments and some plastics, but useless with porous loads, textiles, destroying infectious waste, or preparing growth agent in life science labs.
It’s also important to consider the size and set of features that your autoclave will need to fit into your workspace and process. For instance, while benchtop autoclaves offer the performance and quality of full size industrial autoclaves, higher workloads or those looking to sterilize taller loads might require a large capacity autoclave, including top loading autoclaves or front loading autoclaves. While horizontal autoclaves are a good fit for most workplaces, those requiring special attention to biosafety and cleanroom containment would be best served by a horizontal pass through autoclave. Finally, it’s worth considering the options and accessories that can be used to customize your Priorclave autoclave for your particular needs. Rather than relying on a one-size-fits all autoclave price list, Priorclave starts by having a conversation with every potential customer to ensure that you get the right autoclave for the right price.
Superior Steam Sterilization
Both dry-heat and steam sterilizers obviously stand head-and-shoulders above their alternatives: they are more effective than chemical sterilization for the widest range of materials, and both more cost-effective and far less environmentally degrading than irradiation and toxic gas–and pose nowhere near the danger to the lives and livelihoods of your staff.
Dry-heat and steam autoclaves seem to run neck-and-neck in most applications; both ably handle glassware, waste loads, textiles, and lab media preparation. But steam autoclaves offer some pretty stunning efficiencies:
Since water vapor conducts heat better than dry air, a load that takes 8 hours to sterilize in a dry oven will be finished after just 15 minutes in a steam autoclave run at the same temperature. A steam autoclave:
- Saves time: Fewer hours wasted waiting for loads to finish sterilizing means higher throughput for any facility
- Saves energy: The steam autoclave uses less heat over less time to get the same results
- Saves money: Increased efficiency lowers costs
Steam Autoclave Strengths
Steam autoclaves are a must-have for any facility that needs to deal in rendering waste and lab discards safe and sterile. This is among the greatest challenges for any autoclave. First, a waste load is implicitly more dangerous than others, as they are presumed to be contaminated with active bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms. Second, discard cycles often must handle mixed loads containing plastics, textiles, paper, and other materials. Mixed loads are harder to penetrate, and can develop non-sterile “cold spots” harboring live pathogens.
All Priorclave steam sterilizers are fitted with Automatic Timed Freesteaming to encourage thorough steam penetration into these interior cold pockets. For facilities with a special interest in discard loads, our steam autoclaves can include vacuum systems and Pulsed Freesteaming for maximum steam saturation, as well as independent thermocouple probes that monitor and verify that no portion of the load has been left cold.
Finally, it’s important to consider the longevity of your autoclave. In the right setting and usage, steam autoclaves will likely never need serious repairing. All Priorclave products are designed to endure regular operation without constant coddling, but we do offer autoclave servicing, including maintenance and calibration. Priorclave autoclaves have also been awarded an ASME Section VIII, Division 1, “U” stamp for the manufacture of pressure vessels at their London facility and have earned ETL certification.