Autoclaves are commonly used in microbiology and the medical sector as essential equipment in laboratories. They sterilize products by eliminating all bacteria, germs, and pathogens through steam sterilization under pressure at temperatures above 100°C.

An autoclave typically consists of a pressure vessel made of stainless steel with a tightly sealed door that can withstand rated pressure. The product to be sterilized is placed in the autoclave chamber. The steam inside is heated by the integrated heating elements. All important parameters, such as temperature and pressure, can be monitored throughout the process using a digital control unit.

Autoclaving is divided into four steps:

  • Purge phase (removing air from the chamber)
  • Exposure phase (raising the interior temperature and pressure)
  • Sterilization phase
  • Cooling down phase (releasing steam and pressure and cooling)

During the purge phase, steam is used to displace the air in the sterilizer. The temperature and pressure are slightly ramped up to create a continuous flow purge. In the sterilization phase, the product is exposed to steam for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The duration of the sterilization phase may vary depending on the level of bacterial contamination and the sterilization temperature. Finally, the steam is released and the product is allowed to cool down.

Autoclaving is a common method for sterilizing solids, liquids, and waste in destruction bags. Autoclave-compatible materials include empty glass bottles or pipettes, as well as solutions and filters.