Sterilization

Sterilization is a process to kill different kinds of microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria, viruses and spores. Sterility is for instance being required for medical instruments, many pharmaceuticals and some kind of food and its packaging. Therefor sterilization is indispensable to protect the health of patients in hospitals and consumers.

There are several ways to sterilize products. It can be performed by applying heat, chemicals or radiation. Liquids and gases/air can also be sterilized by microfiltration. For some products which are sensitive to heat and moisture special sterilization processes need to be considered.

Sterilization with hydrogen peroxide use a deep vacuum to keep temperatures at a low level during the whole process - therefor also called "low temperature sterilization". This technology is widely being used for medical instruments such as endoscopes. Pfeiffer Vacuum developed dedicated vacuum pumps to work highly reliable in this application.

Application requirements

  • Short cycle time
  • High reliability
  • Long service intervals
  • High vapor tolerance

How does it work?
The instruments are packed and put into a sterilizer chamber. There are several cycle programs available which consider the different level complexity of the instruments geometry. During a cycle the chamber will be evacuated (pre-conditioned) and several injections of H2 O2 are performed. Due to the low pressure the injected H2 O2 evaporates immediately. This ensures a high penetration of H2 O2 to the instruments. Either plasma or a catalyzer trap before/behind the vacuum pump is being used to break down residual H2 O2 into water and oxygen.

Vacuum requirements
The vacuum level varies during the process and includes several pump down cycles. The usual pressure requirements can be as low as 0.1 hPa. A high pumping performance is important to minimize cycle time and maximize throughput. Due to the injection of H2 O2 the pumps need to be able to handle both H2 O2 and water vapor. This is addressed by optimizing thermal management for our pumps.

Product portfolio
Pfeiffer Vacuum offers dedicated rotary vane pumps with high vapor capacity which has been specially designed for this process. In addition we offer dry compressing technology like our multi-stage Roots pumps to minimize maintenance efforts. Accurate pressure monitoring is possible thanks to our capacitance gauges. To perform their regular calibration our calibration systems Basic and Pro are the ideal choice.

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