How Autoclave Machines Work

How Autoclave Machines work?
How Autoclave Machines work? | Source

How Does an Autoclave Machine Work?

An autoclave is one of the essential equipment in hospitals, tattoo studios and laboratories; wherever there is need to sterilize medical and other equipment to make them free from disease causing microorganisms. The medical equipment and surgical instruments used in a health care facility has to be kept clean and free from infection causing bacteria, virus and other pathogens. As these instruments are used on various patients there are a lot of chances for infection from one patient to another if the instruments are not cleaned and sterilized properly.


What is an Autoclave?

The autoclave is an instrument that works with heat to kill the infection causing microbes and this is done in a pressurized container that aids in increasing the temperature in such a way that no bacteria can escape and come out of the autoclave alive. The first step in the autoclaving procedure is to remove the air inside it and it is done in different ways depending on the type of the autoclave. The chamber in which the sterilization process takes place is a sealed one and different process are used for removal of air like:

  • Vacuum pumping
  • Steam pumping or
  • Stem pulsing
  • Steam induced downward displacement etc


What kind of Autoclave Machines are there?

There are different types of Autoclave equipments in use and they can be broadly divided into

  • Gravity displacement autoclaves
  • Positive pressure autoclaves
  • Vacuum or negative pressure Autoclaves

Gravity Displacement Autoclave

The most common among them is the gravity displacement autoclave. This has an autoclave chamber filled with water and a heating element is fitted there so that it can be heated by electric power. A fill hole is provided for filling water from a reservoir chamber. The water in the autoclave chamber is heated to form steam and it occupies the chamber forcing the air to go out through the fill hole that is controlled by a temperature controlled diaphragm arrangement.

through the fill hole that is controlled by a temperature controlled diaphragm arrangement.

When the temperature rises and all the air has escaped out the diaphragm closes increasing the pressure inside the chamber. The temperature is maintained at about 121 to 134 degrees centigrade. The pressure increases to about 18 PSI and in this environment the instruments that have to be sterilized are arranged inside the autoclave chamber so that there is sufficient space for heat circulation. For best results the instruments must be left in the autoclave chamber for about 3 to 18 minute cycles for the proper sterilization to occur. This is one of the most basic of the autoclaves and with the improvements in technology we have more advanced autoclaves with more features and high sterilization efficiency at shorter time cycles.

Positive Pressure Displacement Autoclave

A positive pressure displacement autoclave has an improved design in which it has a separate steam generator. It forces powerful jets of steam to displace the air so that the sterilization can be performed at much higher temperatures. In the S type Autoclaves a vacuum is created to suck out the entire air inside the Autoclave chamber and are built to work at higher pressures and higher temperatures with large chambers so that more instruments can be sterilized in a short time with the highest sterilization efficiency.

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jabelufiroz profile image

jabelufiroz 3 years ago from India

It's a new information on autoclave machines. Voted up.

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