The invention of the autoclave.

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An autoclave is a self-locking apparatus used for the sterilisation of materials by steam under pressure. It is also used for industrial processing and cooking.


In 1879, the French microbiologist Charles Chamberland invented the autoclave after it was discovered that the boiling point of water rose when the pressure increased. Here is a drawing of Chamberland’s autoclave:

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Water boils at 121° Celsius at a high pressure of 15 psi. The hot steam kills microorganisms in 15 minutes or less.



Here is a photograph of Charles Chamberland:

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