Environmental impact of autoclaves is an area of increasing importance to customers, yet it is widely misunderstood.
Various methods can be incorporated into autoclaves to improve the usage of such services as electricity and water.
Whilst using fans is an accepted method of cooling autoclave chambers and is offered by most manufacturers, it is quite a slow cooling method (which means it uses more electricity). Many autoclave manufacturers also offer ranges that use water coils or jackets as a cooling method. These methods obviously use more water than fan cooled autoclaves (although cycle times tend to be much lower, so electricity costs should be less), however you should ensure that these systems are as environmentally friendly as possible. All water should be re-circulated via an integral hold tank. This type of system normally only replaces water once it has reached a pre-set temperature, which can significantly reduce the water usage. Power consumption is also an issue for many. Most power is consumed during the heat up stage. Selecting an autoclave with the most efficient heating up method will save a considerable amount of money over the life of the autoclave.
The autoclave with the lowest power consumption would be that which uses a site steam supply as no heating is involved here. Next would be those with separate steam generators kept on constant standby, due to the fact that once the generator has reached temperature, it simply ‘ticks over’, using relatively little electricity.
Next are autoclaves with either a separate steam generator or internal heaters. The autoclave most likely to consume the most power would be those which have internal heaters and an auto-drain facility, because this means that the water is drained and replaced after every cycle, making it necessary to heat up the water from cold every cycle.