Maintaining infection control and a sterile work environment is a top priority for a modern laboratory or research facility. This makes autoclaves indispensable. They ensure that unwanted and harmful microorganisms are destroyed. Usually, autoclaves with a steam sterilization function are used in laboratories. These employ the intense heat of the steam to build up pressure within the device and so kill bacterial spores by denaturing and flocculating their cell proteins through hydrolysis.
An autoclave is a piece of equipment or a type of machine that is used to sterilize (make germ free) objects such as surgical equipment, laboratory instruments, pharmaceutical items, and other materials by using high-pressure steam. This process is called a physical method of sterilization. Solids, liquids, hollows, and instruments of various shapes and sizes can be sterilized by vertical autoclaves. A wide range of fields, such as hospitals, research facilities, and even tattoo parlors use this equipment.
Autoclaves are important devices to ensure the sterilization of materials containing water as they cannot be sterilized by dry heat sterilization. Besides, autoclaves are used for various other purposes.
- They are used to decontaminate specific biological waste and sterilize media, instruments, and labware.
- Regulated medical waste that might contain bacteria, viruses, and other biological materials are recommended to be inactivated by autoclaving before disposal.
- In medical labs, autoclaves are used to sterilize medical equipment, glassware, surgical equipment, and medical wastes.
- Similarly, autoclaves are used for the sterilization of culture media, autoclavable containers, plastic tubes, and pipette tips.