Air Filtration in Autoclaving
Posted on June 18th, 2020
Autoclaving is one of the most commonly used sterilisation methods in healthcare applications, as well as having a number of industrial uses. In this article, we look at what an autoclave is, how they work, and the importance of air filtration in autoclaving.
What is an autoclave?
Essentially a large steel vessel, autoclaves are used for sterilising equipment and tools by subjecting the load to high pressure saturated steam above boiling point, killing bacteria, viruses, and spores. They are most commonly used for sterilisation in a clinical or hospital environment but also have a range of industrial applications including polymer curing and the vulcanisation of rubber, as well as in the food industry for the sterilisation of canned and hermetically packed foods.
How an autoclave works
After the autoclave steriliser chamber is closed, a vacuum pump removes all the air from inside the device or it is forced out by pumping in steam. If using a vacuum system, the chamber is pumped with high pressured steam to quickly raise the internal temperature to around 120°C for approximately 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the load and the contents.
Air filtration in autoclaves
Once the required time of sterilisation has elapsed, the temperature of the chamber is reduced to allow the door to open for cooling and drying of the contents. This reduction in temperature creates a vacuum in the chamber which is broken by opening a valve to ambient air. This is where autoclave filters come into use as it is important, especially in medical uses, that only sterile air enters the chamber after the contents has already been sterilised. Walker Filtration’s Autoclave Filter Elements ensure atmospheric air entering the autoclave is both sterile and safe to use, protecting the load from external contamination.
How often should an autoclave filter element be changed?
Autoclave filter elements should be changed every 50-100 cycles. Filters can be easily replaced at any time, not just when the autoclave machine is calibrated.