An autoclave is essentially a pressure vessel that uses steam pressure as a sterilizing agent. By increasing the pressure (above atmospheric pressure) the steam can reach higher temperatures. The additional pressure increases the boiling temperature of the water. Actually, about 20 ° C more. This effectively increases its heat content and its ability to kill. This comes from its latent heat of evaporation.
The latest generation of autoclaves, known as "pre-vacuum generation", adds chamber preheating, steam injection, 3 pre-vacuum phases and closed-door vacuum drying: a technological "revolution" that changes parameters in the safety of professionals and patients, which is why they are known as drying autoclaves.
Steam sterilization in autoclaves
Steam sterilization is the preferred method of sterilization and works by denaturing proteins. Steam autoclaves are equipment designed to use high pressure and temperature steam to kill microorganisms. Sterilization involves the complete destruction of all microorganisms, including resistant bacteria, bacterial spores, protozoa, prions, viruses and fungi present in liquids, surfaces of materials, drugs or culture media.
The good thing about steam is that it has the ability to penetrate objects that have a cooler temperature. When the steam hits a cooler surface, it condenses in the water on that object. This effectively reduces the amount of vapor present. This negative pressure in the steam draws more steam to the cooler area. Condensation occurs whenever the temperature of the condensing surface is lower than that of the steam. This allows rapid heating of surfaces, penetration into dense materials, denaturation of proteins, and sterilization of microorganisms.
Autoclave with vacuum enhanced drying
The vacuum pump drying stage, at the end of the sterilization cycle, ensures better drying of porous loads and hollow instruments such as pipettes. The very low pressure in the autoclave chamber caused by the vacuum reduces the boiling temperature, thus allowing the moisture to evaporate more quickly. The hot steam is absorbed from the autoclave chamber by means of the vacuum pump and the materials are dried. After the vacuum stage, dry air is introduced into the chamber through an air filter.
Optimal drying by steam generator
The optional integral steam generator for the vertical models produces steam that is fed to the coil that surrounds the chamber. Through the combined operation of heat provided by the steam in the coil and the removal of air by means of the vacuum pump, the remaining moisture is quickly removed from the chamber. The result is a faster and more efficient cycle, avoiding the formation of condensate, ensuring that difficult loads, such as textiles, porous loads, hollow instruments like pipettes are dried.