AUTOCLAVE

An autoclave is a device which is used to sterlize all forms of micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa etc. under high pressure steam at 121˚C or more for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the load and the contents. It was invented by Charles Chamberland in 1884 and the development of autoclave tremendously stimulated the growth of microbiology.
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STERLIZATION
An act of destroying all forms of life on and in an object. A substance is sterlize, when it is free of all micro-organisms. Micro-organisms can be killed either by physical agents such as heat or by chemical substances regardless of the manner in which they are killed. Sterlization is used principally to prevent spoilage of food and other substances and to
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prevent the transmission of diseases by destroying microbes that may cause them in humans and animals.

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OPERATION:

SCHEMATIC DIAGRAM OF AUTOCLAVE

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OPERATION OF AUTOCLAVE

Steam enters through the steam supply and passes into the jacket After the air has been exhausted through the sediment screen Pressurized steam starts to enter into the chamber and increases the temperature of the chamber Steam circulates among and through the materials and starts to sterlize them At the conclusion of the cycle, steam is exhausted through steam exhausted valve.
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Autoclaving must be carried out properly. If all air has not been flushed out of the chamber, it will not reach 121˚C. the chamber should not be packed too tightly because steam needs to circulate freely and contact everything in the autoclave. When a large volume of liquid must be sterlized, an extended sterlization time will be needed. e.g. 5litres of liquid may require about 70minutes.
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TYPES OF AUTOCLAVE
There are two types of Autoclave:  Stoves top autoclave  Front loading autoclave

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STOVES TOP AUTOCLAVE

Stoves top autoclave actually resemble a pressure cooker. Each unit comes complete with a bolt-down lid and a pressure gauge on the outside. These units requires an outside heat source and can be extremely dangerous in untrained hands. They should only be used by experienced professionals.

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DIAGRAM

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FRONT LOADING AUTOCLAVE

Front loading autoclaves are more widely used for their convenience but must also be handled with great care. The units are box-shaped and self contained, equipped with a heating unit to turn water into vapour for sterilization. The autoclave's controls allow the operator to set the desired temperature, and determine how long the machine will remain in operation. There is also a gauge to track chamber temperature or pressure
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DIAGRAM

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PRINCIPLE
The principal used in autoclave is to increase the pressure of steam in a closed system that increases its temperature. The water molecules become more aggregated that increases its penetration considerably. This principal is used to reduce sterlizing time in the laboratory instrument called the autoclave.

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CONSTRUCTION
It contains a sterlizing chamber into which materials are placed and a steam jacket where steam is introduced. A safety valve decreases excess pressure of the chamber. The temperature rises to 121.5˚C and superheated water molecules rapidly conduct heat into the micro-organisms within about 15minutes.

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USES
Autoclaves are widely used in:  Microbiology  Medicine  Body piercing  Dentistry .

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USES
A notable growing application of autoclaves is in the treatment and sterilization of waste, such as pathogenic hospital waste. Machines in this category largely operate under the same principles as the original autoclave in that they are able to neutralize potentially infectious agents by utilizing pressurized steam and superheated water.
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CODES
There are some standards which are used for designing the autoclaves:  ASME (American society of mechanical engineers)
This society generates boilers & pressure vessel code.

ASTM (American society for testing and materials)

This society generates specifications for most of the materials used in the ASME boilers & pressure vessel code.
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MATERIAL OF CONSTRUCTION
The selection of the materials from which the autoclave is fabricated turns entirely upon the application.  For steam autoclaves, carbon steel is used to prevent rusting that occurs with repeated cycles of steam, water and air.  Above 750 °F (399 °C), high-temperature alloys are used sush as MONEL400 and SA516 Carbon steel.
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