Autoclaves are strong containers used for chemical reactions and other processes involving high pressures and temperatures. Indicators (either physical, chemical or biological) are used to show the right temperature has been reached. Trapped air can be removed before the process is activated by using downward displacement, steam pulsing, vacuum pumps, super-atmospheric cycles or sub-atmospheric cycles. Autoclaves can be classified according to their function such as industrial, sterilisation, curing or crystal formation autoclaves. Another way is the process applied to achieve high temperatures such as dry heat or steam. These are especially suitable for materials and objects which cannot withstand the heat of a hot air oven. Some autoclaves use heated chemical vapour or a chemical solution although there might be worries that chemicals can be toxic or corrosive. There are doubts about the efficacy of glass bead sterilisers and whether they achieve the necessary temperature to ensure all bacteria, viruses and fungi are inactivated. Autoclaves are predominantly used in the field of medicine to ensure all glassware, equipment and instruments are sterilised. They might also be used to render biological waste safer before disposal. Their industrial applications include curing components, coating and the vulcanisation of rubber for hydrothermal synthesis.

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