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18 ANALYTICAL AND LABORATORY EQUIPMENT


AUTOCLAVE cuts sterilising costs


Lee Oakley reveals how a UK university is benefiting from the latest in autoclave technology


B


y replacing a 350 litre power door autoclave with a Priorclave 450


litre front-loading autoclave, the plant research laboratory of York University’s Biology Department has benefited considerably. It has reduced energy costs and achieved a 90% reduction in water usage, all associated with the sterilising process, providing a potential saving of nearly £6,000 per year. Te Department of Biology is internationally renowned for the strength and quality of its research, teaching and state-of-the-art facilities, and is consistently ranked as one of the top biology departments in the country. Te spacious modern teaching laboratories provide an outstanding research environment from studying cancer, immunology and tissue


engineering, to novel agricultural products, environmental studies and bio-archaeology. Te ‘plant’ teaching


laboratory is attended by undergraduates and those studying for a PhD, researching and tackling fundamental problems across plant biology, including physiological adaptation, plant nutrition, primary and secondary metabolism, and intracellular and intercellular signalling. Within the laboratory they use a diverse approach spanning classical molecular genetics and biochemistry through to post- genomic and advanced imaging technologies. Results have contributed to a wide range of applications from improving production of the anti-malarial drug, artemisinin to increasing the yield of bioenergy crops.


Owing to the nature of the


research work undertaken, this area of the university is classified as a Containment Level 1; only those with authorisation can gain access to the laboratory. In order to maintain the highest level of decontamination risk- potential, after experimental procedures involving seed and GM investigation, all waste is carefully sterilised for safe disposal using steam autoclaves.


Space-saving design Since installing the Priorclave RSC-450 in the head-house of the plant laboratory, side by side analysis of running costs with another autoclave has showed an overall saving of 56%, the major contribution to this massive saving is associated with cost of water supply and disposal, amounting to a


reduction of 88% and 89% respectively. Since the university is in a hard-water area Priorclave fitted a water softener and again, a very big reduction of a 92% saving in salt requirements has been achieved. Te previous power-door


autoclave, although only a 350 litre machine, had a much larger footprint than its replacement, the Priorclave RSC-450 laboratory autoclave. It also required a separately housed 45kW generator that ran constantly 24/7 to provide the required level of steam for sterilisation. By replacing this with the new autoclave it has given the laboratory more free space within the actual laboratory as well as create a totally free room that previously housed the generator. Te Priorclave 450 litre


York University’s Biology department has greatly reduced its energy costs and water usage by investing in a new autoclave from the UK expert Priorclave


www.scientistlive.com


autoclave is a floor-standing autoclave with a small, integral steam generator that only heats water on demand. Tis process cuts costs significantly compared with the previous autoclave design. Te autoclave is called into action two to three times a day, five days a week and by heating water on-demand it is estimated to save the university £7.58 per run. Contributing to the efficiency of the Priorclave front-loading autoclave is the inclusion of a vacuum system for air removal at the start of the process with an evacuation capability down to approximately 300mb absolute. During the steam generation process multiple vacuum stages can be programmed and are interspersed with heating stages


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