What is an Autoclave & how does it work?
Autoclaves are used in many different industries, one of which is the medical waste industry. An autoclave is a machine used to carry out industrial and scientific processes, requiring water, pressure and heat. While there are several methods for medical waste treatment, the sterilization method with an autoclave is the most popular. In this particular method, an autoclave functions as a medical waste sterilizer, killing bacteria and infectious material in biomedical refuse.
In medical waste disposal the autoclave process is complex. The following steps detail the process:
- Biohazardous material is deposited into the autoclave bin.
- The autoclave doors will lock automatically, however many autoclaves also have manual seals on the outside for added safety.
- When the door shuts, the vessel is pressurized and filled with steam.
- Long-term exposure to high heat and pressure eliminates harmful contaminants within the waste.
- These high temperatures transform the biohazardous waste to noninfectious waste, making it safe for disposal in landfills.
While autoclaves can sterilize regulated waste, only certain types of medical waste are ideal for the autoclaving process. Red bag waste, sharps waste, hazardous material, and infectious wastes are all fine for autoclave use. Items such as bloody bandages, used medical sharps and sharps containers or worn masks or gowns are all found in these types of medical waste and autoclaved once disposed of. Some forms of regulated medical waste cannot be autoclaved, and instead require a medical incinerator. Chemotherapy and pathological waste fall into that category.
There are different types of medical waste autoclaves, most however, function by gravity or vacuum-induced sterilization. Gravity and vacuum autoclave methods both use high-temperature steam and pressure to displace air in the cylinder, allowing the sterilization to more efficiently penetrate the waste. Each one of these autoclave methods have their advantages. Gravity autoclaving is prevalent with most laboratory media. This includes glassware, steel tools and biohazardous waste. Gravity autoclaving is the most simple sterilization method. It uses steam pumped into the autoclave chamber to displace ambient air. The upside of gravity autoclaves is that they do not require peripheral devices. For cases where it may be difficult to remove all of the air, vacuum autoclaving is used. Items like large animal cages, red bags, bedding, porous materials, and wrapped packs or surgical kits sometimes use this method.
If purchasing an autoclave, the first steps are making sure your facility is equipped to accommodate a functioning autoclave and all facility permits are current. Next you will want to only consider autoclaves that are specific to your purpose. While there are many autoclaves on the market, we recommend autoclaves by the Mark Costello Company. This company is known worldwide as providing the safest and most economical autoclaves on the market. For more information on autoclaves visit https://www.mark-costello.com/medical-waste/medical-waste-sterilizers/.