An autoclave is a device used to sterilize equipment and supplies by subjecting them to high pressure saturated steam at 121 °C for around 15–20 minutes depending on the size of the load and the contents. It was invented by Charles Chamberland in 1879, although a precursor known as the steam digester was created by Denis Papin in 1679. The name comes from Greek auto-, ultimately meaning self, and Latin clavis meaning key—a self-locking device.
Autoclaves are widely used in microbiology, medicine, tattooing, body piercing, veterinary science, mycology, dentistry, and prosthetics fabrication. They vary in size and function depending on the media to be sterilized.
Typical loads include laboratory glassware, other equipment and waste, surgical instruments and medical waste.
A notable growing application of autoclaves is the pre-disposal treatment and sterilization of waste material, such as pathogenic hospital waste. Machines in this category largely operate under the same principles as conventional autoclaves in that they are able to neutralize potentially infectious agents by utilizing pressurized steam and superheated water. A new generation of waste converters is capable of achieving the same effect without a pressure vessel to sterilize culture media, rubber material, gowns, dressing, gloves, etc. It is particularly useful for materials which cannot withstand the higher temperature of a hot air oven.
Autoclaves are also widely used to cure composites and in the vulcanization of rubber. The high heat and pressure that autoclaves allow help to ensure that the best possible physical properties are repeatably attainable. The aerospace industry and sparmakers (for sailboats in particular) have autoclaves well over 50 feet (15 m) long, some over 10 feet (3.0 m) wide.
- V116 - Steris - (16" chamber)
- V120 - Steris - (20" chamber)
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