Optimization Tests for Heating Autoclaves
Tempco was approached by a well-recognized leader in the medical industry, specifically an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the sterilization and infection markets. Early in the business relationship, Tempco was asked if they would consider testing two of their popular autoclave benchtop models. Followed by some agreeable conference calls regarding the matter, we concluded that the following should be considered in the testing criteria:
- Cold-start time reduction
- Simplification of current heater design(s)
- Energy efficiency
- Lower heater costs
- Maintain established heater power requirement for autoclave units
The autoclave units were shipped to our facilities and placed in our lab for our product engineer, Filip M., to review and test. These established autoclave designs use a variation of Tempco’s Duraband® Heaters that are more commonly known as mica band heaters. They are usually fashioned in various clad materials and conform to various cylinder sizes. These band heaters are secured on the outside of the chamber or business end of the autoclave to perform the function of heat transfer to the chamber’s interior.
Mica-Insulated Band Heaters for Autoclaves
The following design variations were considered for testing on the Autoclaves Chamber:
- Two sheath materials were used to test heater thermal conductivity
- Variations in heater sizes for serviceability and cost efficiencies
- Insulation material to cover the exterior of chamber
- Heater prototype units to cover or heat other areas of chamber
We were able to draw several conclusions through testing. Tempco’s theory that cold-start time could not be reduced without raising the power of the original heaters was confirmed. The prototypes did not offer any advantages when heating other segments of the chamber. Additionally, serviceability could not be improved, and energy efficiency was not positively affected with the addition of insulation material. However, Tempco was able to show a reduction in the cost of the heaters by changing the sheath material to aluminized steel. This change did not affect thermal conductivity in the application.
In the end, Tempco continued to provide a reliable heat source in the form of our mica-insluated Duraband Heaters to our customer.
Autoclave heaters being tested with additional insulation
Territorial Sales Manager
July 8, 2021
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