There are many methods provided by manufacturers to facilitate Incubator self-decontamination. Three of the most common methods are:
Moist heat sterilization
Dry heat sterilization
This article will examine these three types of sterilization in detail.
1. UV Sterilization
DNA nucleotides harbor the kinds of conjugated bonds that absorb UV light. UV sterilization generates an antimicrobial effect by the damage it causes to a microorganism’s DNA when aromatic nucleotides absorb high energy photons. This can make UV sterilization an effective solution to reduce contamination in an incubator chamber.
However, there are significant drawbacks. Your light source would need to have unrestricted access to all surfaces of the Multifunctional Incubator chamber, shelves, and shelf mounting hardware. Shadowed regions will not be decontaminated by UV light. Also, a common method for microorganisms to survive UV exposure is through enhanced DNA repair mechanisms. In this case, survivors of a UV cycle will be more likely to survive repeat treatments.
Plus, UV light is generally not effective in destroying endospores. Microorganisms which survive the UV decontamination process will potentially have the opportunity to form monocultures and increase their likelihood to reach quorum. This is unless UV sterilization is combined with other methods of incubator decontamination, such as a tear-down and washing of all surfaces, a dispersed chemical treatment, or an effective high-heat cycle.
2. Moist Heat Sterilization
Moist heat decontamination is often employed on incubators that are not designed to safely reach the high temperatures needed for an effective dry-heat sterilization regime. This may be due to a risk of damage to internal components or the risk of overheating the incubator’s outer body.
Traditional Autoclaves operate by heating to ~121°C and applying elevated steam pressure to increase rates of thermal transmission to targeted contaminant organisms. A moist heat decontamination cycle performed above but close to 100°C and at ambient pressure is guaranteed to be less effective than an autoclave, and does not meet any medical organizational criteria for SAL6 sterilization. SAL6 represents a Sterility Assurance Level of 10-6 meaning you get a Log6 reduction of microorganisms.
Interestingly, the archaea Geogemma barossii, better known as “Strain 121,” is a species of microorganism that has been shown to grow and reproduce successfully in a pressurized Horizontal Pressure Steam Sterilizer at 121°C.
What are Drying Ovens Used for?
Despite the fact that most people associate the word oven with the benefits of baking, industrial models are present in food manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and even in painting processes.
The main job of an industrial Drying Oven is to remove moisture from substances or products. This means that it can be used for evaporation, incubation, sterilization, baking, and many other procedures. Keep in mind that industrial ovens vary in size, capacity, and shape, depending on what they are used for, so the perfect model will depend on the application it is given.
Types of Industrial Drying Ovens
Even though industrial Hot Air Drying Ovens share the same core concept, there are dozens of different types of technologies available. Industrial ovens vary in heating mechanisms, time and volume capacities, and other key elements, depending on your industry.
Keep in mind that even if there isn’t a standard design that suits your operation, a custom industrial oven is a great way to significantly improve your factory’s efficiency.
Conveyor dryers are used in processes that require continuous production of small and medium-sized products. They also make a great choice if your factory employs automated mass production as they fit perfectly in most production lines.
Vacuum Drying Oven
These versatile machines are used mostly in engineering, research, and other industries that may require drying in a low-pressure environment. Vacuum Drying Ovens also minimize oxidation and may even include an automated digital interface for monitoring purposes.
Convection Drying Ovens
Convection drying ovens rely on high temperatures to gently accelerate the dehydration process. These pieces of equipment make a great choice for pre-heating, aging, baking, sterilization, and thermal storage.
What is a Test Chamber?
A Test Chamber is a managed and controlled environment used to test the endurance, stability, and practicality of equipment, products, and chemicals. They are a controlled enclosure that mimics the effects of environmental conditions that a product may encounter during its usage. Programmed test chambers create extreme temperature variations, moist or humid conditions, and radical altitude variances.
Aside from environmental conditions, test chambers can be designed and set to push the limits of a product through the use of physical forces such as inertia, vibration, and destructive impact.
The burst test, seen in this image, determines the amount of resistant pressure this sample of cardboard can endure before it fails, an example of the types of endurance testing performed in Scalable Test Chambers.
Some of the other purposes for test chambers are:
Prepping a product for additional testing
Stand-alone testing for combinations of different materials
Stress screening to help identify product issues while still at the prototype stage
What are the Designs of Test Chambers?
Walk-in Test Chamber designs vary depending on the types of test they perform, which can be very complex and complicated or extremely simple. They come in various sizes to fit the manufacturer and the desired conditions to be tested such as a bench top for testing small items and room size to fit a car.
Though size and types of environments are a factor, modern test chambers have technological controls that can provide instantaneous data and read outs that give technicians the opportunity to adjust and change conditions in the middle of a process. In a steady test chamber, pictured below, a specific set of variables are programmed into the chamber and remain unchanged for extended periods.