Air Filtration in Autoclaving
Posted on March 17th, 2021
Autoclaving is one of the most commonly used sterilization methods in healthcare applications, as well as having a number of industrial uses. In this post, we review what an autoclave is, how it works and the importance of air filtration in autoclaving.
What is an Autoclave?
Essentially an autoclave is a large steel vessel that is used for sterilizing equipment and tools by subjecting the load to high pressure, saturated steam above boiling point, which kills bacteria, viruses, and spores. They are commonly used for sterilizing in a clinical or hospital environment. However, they also have a range of industrial applications, including polymer curing, vulcanization of rubber, and sterilization of canned and hermetically packed foods.
How an Autoclave Works
After an autoclave sterilizer chamber is closed, the air inside must be removed. This is done by either forcing air out one of two ways by either adding high pressured steam or via a vacuum pump. If using a vacuum system, the chamber is pumped with high pressured steam that quickly penetrates all of the surfaces rapidly, even on porous objects.
Air Filtration in Autoclaves
Once sterilization is complete, the temperature of the chamber is reduced to allow the door to open and for cooling and drying of the contents to begin. The reduction in temperature creates a vacuum in the chamber which is broken by opening the valve to ambient air.
Autoclave filters ensure that only sterile air enters the chamber after the contents have already been cleaned. Walker Filtration’s Autoclave Filter Elements ensure the atmospheric air entering the autoclave is both sterile and safe to use, protecting the contents 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.