What Is The Use Of An Autoclave In Microbiology?

What Is The Use Of An Autoclave In Microbiology?
Authored By Medical Equipment Services Admin

autoclave in microbiology

Microbiologists study the smallest living organisms on earth. These organisms are so small that you cannot see them with the human eye.

These organisms consist of bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and microscopic parasites.

Sterilisation is critical to microbiologists who must make sure these tiny organisms are killed before equipment is reused or contaminates someone.

An autoclave is a preferred method of sterilising a wide range of equipment used by microbiologists.

How An Autoclave Works

An autoclave is essentially an oversized pressure cooker. You may have used a pressure cooker in your home for quickly sealing cans, or to quickly cook food.

The autoclave equipment used in a microbiology lab, or medical lab, is usually a small box-shaped device, similar in appearance to a microwave.

The autoclave heats materials placed inside to approximately 121 deg C using steam and a minimum pressure of 15 PSI to kill micro-organisms.

The heat is maintained for at least 15 minutes, but most sterilisation processes can take 30 plus minutes to complete.

The time required varies depending on load density, the types of materials being sterilised, and if the materials are wrapped.

The autoclave includes controls to set heat, pressure and the length of the sterilisation process.

The high heat and pressure permeate the micro-organisms and kill them.

Autoclaves come in three different classes

Class N - The N stands for Naked. These autoclaves are intended for sterilising naked, unwrapped, items.

This can include items like Petri dishes, test tubes, clamps, and trays. This class of autoclave will not penetrate through porous materials.

Class B - Class B autoclaves add an additional vacuum cycle. The air is removed from the autoclave prior to the introduction of steam and pressure.

This allows for deeper penetration through porous materials.

It also allows you to sterilise items which are wrapped. Both Class N and Class B autoclaves are available in small footprint sizes.

Class S - This class is a little more undefined. It is basically any type of autoclave which does not clearly fall under the two other categories.

It most commonly means the autoclave offers features somewhere between the other two classes.

Microbiology Materials And Tools That Require Sterilisation

When you look around a microbiology lab, you quickly notice a wide array of items which will require sterilisation. A few of these items include:

  • Culture Bottles
  • Petri Dishes
  • Test Tubes
  • Slides
  • Syringes
  • Specimen Dishes
  • Containers

Any tools a microbiologist use needs to be sterile before use and sterilised again after use.

It is imperative that cross-contamination is not allowed. Cross-contamination destroys accurate test results.

The autoclave is not only used for cleaning equipment, though. It is often used to kill solid waste before disposal.

This should give you a basic overview of why an autoclave is essential in microbiology.

Without sterilised tools, proper testing and experimentation would be impossible. Without sterilisation, disposal of waste products would be dangerous.

If you are looking for a new autoclave, or if this will be a first time purchase, it’s important that you make your purchase through an experienced and reliable company.

One such company is MES Australia, a reliable company that offers autoclaves and many other products for use in the medical and dental professions.

If you are looking for the latest autoclave technology, then look no further than MES Australia. Please call us today on +61 3 9331 6796 or contact us through our website https://www.mesaustralia.com.au/pages/contact


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