An autoclave is a pressurized, steam-heated container. The temperature and pressure that an autoclave achieves can cause chemical reactions and kill microorganisms. Manufacturing concrete blocks and shelf stable foods utilizes industrial autoclaves. Medical autoclaves sterilize equipment and bio-hazardous waste. Autoclaves are a common piece of equipment in microbiological laboratories.
Sterilize Medical Tools
Sterilization of medical instruments and equipment is essential in preventing the spread of infection. The temperature of an autoclave kills microorganisms. The equipment is labeled with dated heat sensitive tape prior to being autoclaved. The dye in the tape will change color when the equipment has been autoclaved. Sterilized items that are stored in clean, dry, dust-proof areas will usually remain sterile for several days after autoclaving.
Aerated autoclave concrete is a lightweight, concrete-like material. This type of concrete typically weights one-sixth as much as convention concrete. The chemical reaction that occurs during autoclaving creates many air pockets within the concrete. These air pockets give the concrete an insulating ability. Manufacturing of aerated autoclave concrete utilizes industrial waste such as fly ash and slag as main raw materials and produces fewer emission than the process in the brick industry.
Ready- to-Serve Food
Autoclaving technology has made shelf-stable ready to eat meals available in the grocery store. These products contain foods such as rice, potatoes, meats and vegetables. Autoclaving is a process that sterilizes the food by destroying food spoilage organisms. These products can be stored for months without the loss of quality. The food is completely cooked and tender, needing only a brief time heating in a microwave oven.
Shelf Stable Beverages
The most common application of autoclaving beverages for adults is in the manufacture of milk-based coffee beverages. Canned milk and infant formula are some of the first autoclaved beverages available in the retail market. Autoclaved sterilized milk products have an expected shelf life of a year or more with no refrigeration required. Packaging can be in steel cans, aluminum cans and plastic bottles specially designed for autoclaving.
One of the most important aspects of laboratory management is the safe disposal of microbiological laboratory waste. Medical laboratories test for pathogen and viruses by setting up conditions that will encourage their growth within petri dishes or test tubes. Bio-hazardous waste such as syringes and sample vials are autoclaved to sterilize them. An added benefit is the reduction in volume of the waste after autoclaving since the majorities of disposable medical equipment are composed of plastic and melt during autoclaving.