One cannot miss an autoclave in health care facilities and scientific medical laboratories.
They are also usually used in tattoo parlours and funeral homes. The reason why these facilities use it is that it is a vital sterilisation tool.
However, it has other uses which will discuss further. Below is a guide on what an autoclave is and its applications.
What Is an Autoclave?
The word auto and clave mean automatic locking. It is a large vessel that is pressurised and brought to extremely high temperatures.
They are usually cylindrical so that they can withstand the high pressures. Safety valves are also put in the autoclave to ensure that the pressure is well maintained.
The pressurised steam is efficient in destroying the micro-organisms, which makes it perfect for sterilisation.
Many autoclaves usually have a vacuum capability in which the vacuum extracts all the air inside to ensure that full sterilisation status is achieved.
Parts of an Autoclave
Below are the various parts that make up an autoclave:
- Safety Valve
This prevents excess pressure build-up inside the equipment.
This holds the equipment that is being sterilised.
This is an interface panel that allows people to operate the machine.
This removes air, steam and any condensation once it starts cooling down.
- Steam Generator
This is a water heating unit that creates steam and the pressure needed in the equipment.
- Vacuum System
This removes air before steam is injected into the autoclave.
- Cooling System
This cools the wastewater before it is discharged to prevent any damage to the sewer system of the equipment.
Applications Of Autoclaves
The size and temperature of an autoclave will depend on its use. Below are some of the applications:
- Sterilisation of Medical Equipment
Surgical equipment usually needs to be cleaned to destroy any bacteria or contaminants on them before they are used.
Also, any material that will encounter body fluids will need to be sterilised before it is used.
They cannot be used for equipment that cannot withstand high temperatures.
Medical autoclaves can be used for surgical equipment that is commonly used by veterinarians, dentists, tattoo artists, morticians, and medical testing facilities.
- Vulcanisation of Rubber
Autoclaves are used for vulcanising rubber since they produce the heat and pressure that is needed to produce them in consistently high quality.
Since they regulate the pressure and temperature well, they are suitable for this process.
- Growing Synthetic Crystals
Synthetic crystals have a variety of uses in the electronics industry.
Autoclaves regulate the pressure and temperatures needed to produce high-quality quartz crystals.
- Curing of Polymer
Polymer composites are used extensively in various industries. Autoclaves are used to ensure that there is a consistent hardening of the polymer material.
It is used, for example, when producing components for shipbuilding and aerospace industries. These industries use autoclaves that can be ore than 15 metres long!.
- Sterilisation of Waste Materials
Autoclaves can also be used in the sterilisation of waste materials before they are discharged.
It will ensure that the bacteria and viruses are destroyed before they are thrown away.
They also soften some elements such as plastics, making them flatter to reduce their volume when discharged.
As seen above, autoclaves have many uses.
However, the temperatures in it will differ due to the processes needed, the items in the autoclave, and the inside room in the equipment.
You can even get an autoclave that can reach 400°C, but these are mainly for industries.
When choosing an autoclave, you need to ensure that the temperature suits the purpose that it will be bought for to get maximum returns on the investment.
We were originally established in 1952 in order to provide electro-medical products to healthcare professionals across the country.
The company (Medical Equipment Services) was acquired by Medical Equipment Australia in 2009. Since then, we have also expanded into the dental industry.