Unlike their medical counterparts, laboratory autoclaves need to be capable of running a variety of different sterilisation cycles, for liquids, instruments and waste.
Each of these cycles has unique requirements and the unit should be equipped to meet these varying needs. Cycles should be specific to the load type with parameters designed to meet proper sterilisation. An example of these required cycles would be when it comes to autoclaving hollow items such as tubing sets, which are frequently used but often inadequately sterilised. For such items, cycles need to be used that use a prefractionated vacuum that eliminates air pockets and maximises steam penetration.
During liquid sterilisation, most autoclaves reach a certain temperature measured inside of the vessel that corresponds to the steam inside the chamber, for a certain length of time, without ever measuring the specific temperature of the liquids to be sterilised. Many laboratories would be surprised to find that their liquids never reach sterilisation temperature at any point during the sterilisation time even though the autoclave chamber temperature has reached 121 degrees Celsius.
To ensure liquids reach sterilisation temperature, Tuttnauer autoclaves employ the use of a flexible PT 100 temperature probe. The PT 100 extends down into the sterilisation chamber and measures the temperature in a reference vessel; the autoclave’s temperature and run time are based on this liquid temperature, not the temperature of the sterilisation chamber.
Don Whitley Scientific is accredited by UKAS to provide calibration and validation services for heat sterilisation equipment, temperature controlled processes and temperature indicators. This service is vital to make sure autoclaves are running efficiently and appropriately, and this level of after sales support sets Don Whitley Scientific apart from other autoclave suppliers.
This is another article in the ‘Did you know’ series, introducing facts you may not know about products and services supplied by Don Whitley Scientific.