There are certain industries where cleanliness and sterilization must be a priority; the pharmaceutical industry is one of them. Pharmaceutical workers rely on steam cleaning for fast, efficient sterilization.
Pharmaceutical applications use clean steam, which is created from treated water of either RO or DI quality. They also commonly use autoclaves, or steam cleaners, which are machines that use pressurized steam to kill viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms on the items placed inside the sterilizer chamber. These autoclaves can be as small as a microwave, making it easy to keep them in labs, clinics, and other medical facilities, or even to transport them from room to room or facility to facility. Hospitals and busy labs may use larger models that can sterilize many pieces of equipment at the same time.
What Is an Autoclave and How Does It Work?
In an autoclave, pressurized steam reaches temperatures of 250-273 °F (115–134 °C), which is hot enough to kill mold spores, viruses, and bacteria. The higher the temperature, the less time the items must remain inside the autoclave. For example, at 250 °F, the items would have to remain inside for 15 minutes to ensure sterilization; at a temperature of 273 °F, they would only need to stay for three minutes. Autoclaves are common in pharmaceutical, medical, dental, and laboratory facilities, and they’re used to sterilize tools, equipment, and even waste.
Autoclaves work by removing the air around the items that are to be sterilized, which allows the steam to penetrate the surface of the objects. There are two ways to achieve this with two specific types of autoclaves:
- Gravity Displacement Autoclaves: Steam is heavier than the air in the chamber, so the machine injects the steam—which forces the air out via the drain vent. It’s the simpler of the two types of autoclaves, and it’s common in labs and for use with biowaste. It does, however, take longer to work than a prevacuum autoclave, because it takes time for the air to leave the chamber or some air may get trapped inside; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mention that 10 pounds of microbiological waste would require at least 45 minutes in a gravity displacement autoclave at a temperature of 121°C.
- Pre Vacuum Autoclaves: A vacuum removes the air from the chamber first, then the steam is injected. This allows the steam to go right to work on the objects inside. This is the preferred type of autoclave for use with large, porous objects.
Items in the Pharmaceutical Industry That Can Be Sterilized With Steam
Because steam sterilization is cost-effective, non-toxic, and time-efficient, autoclaves are common in a variety of medical and pharmaceutical facilities. In hospitals, they’re more likely to be called steam sterilizers, while in laboratories they’re more often called autoclaves; however, they are the same thing.
While items made of polyethylene, polyurethane, and polystyrene cannot be steam cleaned, many of the other tools and devices in use in medical facilities can be sterilized in an autoclave. This includes respiratory therapy and anesthesia equipment, dental instruments, sharps containers, and more—basically, anything that is heat and moisture resistant. Microbiological waste can be decontaminated in an autoclave, but it typically requires more time inside.
Sterilizing equipment in an autoclave is fast and efficient, and it doesn’t require a team of people devoted solely to cleaning after everyone else has gone home for the day. Instead, technicians and medical practitioners can sanitize as they go along, ensuring their equipment is always free from potential disease-causing microorganisms.
Clean Steam Units From Electro-Steam for the Pharmaceutical Industry
Our stainless steel line of clean steam generators are just a few of the many generators we offer at Electro-Steam. Available in various sizes, these are ideal for steam sterilization in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals and clinics, surgery centers, labs, veterinary clinics, and pharmaceutical production facilities. Our stand-alone units can pipe easily into any autoclave brand, or you can choose an integral unit that will fit in or under most autoclaves. Either way, you get high-quality steam and efficient sterilization. Our stainless steel clean steam generators are ASME CSD-1 compliant and feature a high-pressure safety reset, dual-pressure controls, and low-level cut-off.
Since 1952, Electro-Steam has been proudly manufacturing steam generators in the United States, and we’re committed to providing our clients around the globe with high-quality solutions. If you can’t find the equipment you’re looking for, our team can create a custom solution designed to meet your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our extensive catalog and our customization capabilities.
All food production facilities must maintain stringent sanitation protocols, but dry food processing facilities face additional challenges. Because moisture would ruin a package of crackers, a bag of flour, or a powdered drink mix, traditional cleaning methods aren’t an option. Many companies resort to the slow, painstaking process of removing conveyor belts to wash them, or performing a tedious process of scraping, wiping, and vacuuming.
Fortunately, there’s another way. Dry steam sanitation is faster, safer, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective. More and more facilities use it to meet sanitation requirements without putting their products at risk.
This process relies on high-temperature, low-moisture steam, which not only kills mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms, but also removes grease, dirt, and other grime. Because the dry steam evaporates quickly, floors, countertops, conveyor belts, and more are left clean, dry, and ready to use.
Main Advantages of Steam Cleaning in Food Processing Environments
In food processing facilities, dry steam cleaning has several advantages over traditional wash-down or chemical cleaning:
- Clean-in-Place (CIP) Technology: Instead of removing a conveyor belt to wash it down and let it dry outside the production room, commercial steam sanitation systems allow you to safely clean it in place. This saves time and labor, and it provides a more thorough cleaning, since the hot steam can get into all the cracks and crevices in the equipment that may be hard to reach manually. The steam dries quickly, so you don’t run the risk of contaminating your food products with moisture.
- Reduced Downtime: Because you don’t have to disassemble the equipment, wash it, let it dry, then reassemble it, CIP methods reduce downtime. Production improves as you spend less money on cleaning labor.
- Chemical-Free Cleaning: Harsh chemicals can damage your equipment over time, leave residue that may contaminate food, and put your employees at risk of inhaling toxic vapors or getting a chemical burn. Unfortunately, chemical cleaners are often used incorrectly—they’re either not diluted properly, or they’re mixed with something they shouldn’t be mixed with—which puts your employee at greater risk. Wet floors pose a slipping hazard, as well. Dry steam can remove layers of grease and other food residue without those hazardous chemicals and wet, slippery surfaces. It’s safer and more environmentally friendly than traditional cleaning alternatives.
Making the switch to dry steam can help your company save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and increase production—all while maintaining the fully sanitized facilities demanded by the industry.
Electro-Steam’s Commercial Steam Cleaning Equipment for Food Processing Facilities
At Electro-Steam, we have years of experience working with clients in the food processing industry, and we have a variety of solutions to meet your needs. These systems come in different sizes with features designed to suit a number of applications while upholding safety standards:
- Eagle Series: Built in accordance with UL 353, the Eagle Series features dual pressure controls, a high-pressure safety reset, low-level cut-off (LLCO), and a 200 psi safety valve, complete with the ASME V mark.
- Steam Master by Menikini Series: An adjustable temperature regulator allows for greater safety and adaptability, and it has a 174 psi safety relief valve with automatic pressure controls set at 145 psi. The tank and low-level cut-off system features an alarm to ensure you’re aware of low solution levels. This series is European Conformity (CE) compliant. Options include a steam gun with a 20-foot hose and an accessories kit.
- Conveyor Belt Systems: Avoid equipment shutdowns and downtime with hands-free, chemical-free cleaning. The FDA-approved materials in our steam cleaning systems can be used on plastic, vinyl, and mesh conveyor belts. You’ll meet industry standards for cleanliness, reduce labor costs, and use up to 99% less water than what you would have to use for traditional conveyor belt cleaning.
Dry steam cleaning is cost-effective, time-saving, and environmentally friendly. To learn more benefits of using steam to clean conveyor belts in food processing facilities, download our eBook, “The Benefits of Steam for Conveyor Belt Cleaning in Food Processing.” If you have any questions about our catalog and customization capabilities, please contact us. We’re happy to help you find the right steam cleaning solution for your facility.
Steam cleaning is used in a variety of industries, from medical to food and beverage, because it’s an efficient, eco-friendly way to kill viruses and bacteria. Because there are no chemicals required, it’s also a safer cleaning method for those applying the steam and those who will use the clean surfaces. Let’s take a closer look at why steam is so effective at killing microorganisms and where it’s used as the primary means of sanitation.
How Does Steam Kill Viruses?
Steam cleaning relies on high heat to eliminate viruses. The steam must be at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit to sanitize surfaces, and because hotter is better, it often goes to 212 degrees and above. The heat damages the structure of the organism to kill 99.9 percent of molds, viruses, and bacteria like E. coli, staph, and salmonella.
Steam is safe to use on any surface that can withstand heat. Not only does it sanitize and disinfect, it also helps remove dirt and grime.
Applications Where Steam Sterilization Can Prevent the Spread of Viruses
Steam cleaning has applications in many industries as a sustainable, cost-effective way to ensure rooms and equipment are clean and sterilized. For many of these facilities, failure to sanitize completely can ruin entire batches of product, or it can put people’s lives at risk. There’s no room for error. These applications include:
- Commercial kitchens, especially countertops
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, including tools, equipment, and production areas
- Food and beverage manufacturing facilities
- Garment care centers
- Breweries and wineries
- Hospitals and other medical facilities, for use on countertops, equipment and tools, beds, and hospital rooms
From floors to countertops, walls to specialty equipment, steam is an effective way to kill viruses and other microorganisms while removing dirt.
A More Sustainable and Healthier Way to Kill Viruses
By using steam cleaning in your facility, you eliminate or greatly reduce the need for toxic chemical cleaners. Those harsh cleaners can be dangerous for the people who handle them, particularly if they are not diluted correctly or if they get mixed inappropriately, and they can leave vapors and residue that can affect anyone who uses the space after it has been cleaned. Traditional cleaning methods also leave floors wet and slippery, which can cause accidents.
As an alternative, steam cleaning is every bit as effective as chemical cleaning, if not more so, and the only thing you need is water. It’s more cost-effective and safer for your employees and visitors. It dries almost immediately, so surfaces won’t be left dangerously wet.
It’s also better for the environment. With steam cleaning, there’s no groundwater contamination to worry about, and you’ll improve the air quality in your facility. Avoiding chemicals also means avoiding chemical packaging, so you’ll send fewer toxic containers to the landfill. Steam cleaning is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint while maintaining high standards for cleanliness in your facility.
As a cost-effective solution, you’ll save money not only because you don’t have to buy expensive chemical cleaners, but also because steam cleaning requires less time and labor than traditional chemical cleaning. The steam finds its way into the cracks and crevices that may be hard to reach manually or that may be missed altogether during the manual cleaning process. Imagine how dirt and bacteria can build up in those small spaces over time if left unchecked.
Steam sanitation has long been relied upon by food producers, hospitals, garment care facilities, and more, as a way of ensuring cleanliness while saving money and reducing waste. At Electro-Steam, we specialize in industrial process steam generators and food safety sanitation systems. We have a wide range of standard solutions, and we can further customize them to meet your unique specifications.
Since 1952, we’ve worked with a number of clients in diverse industries, and we’ve established ourselves as a leading provider of steam cleaning equipment. Contact us to learn more.