Green Principles of Sterilization

Ken Ungar, STERIS Corporation

Green Principles of Steam Sterilization

Autoclaves are notorious for their consumption of water due to vacuum systems that call for water and hot steam condensate that must be cooled. Typically these challenges are addressed through water conservation systems that are purchased for the autoclave. However, consideration should be given to how sterilization cycles can be optimized for more efficient cycles. More efficient cycles require less time, less steam, less cooling water and ultimately less energy.

In this presentation, a brief overview will be given to lay the ground work for how autoclaves use water, but most of the emphasis will be on practical examples of ways to optimize cycles to reduce cycle times and thus water and energy consumption. Attention will be given to liquid cycles and red bag waste cycles, both of which present challenges to sterilization and require long cycle times. Not only is water conservation realized, but good sterilization principles are addressed to ensure decontamination and sterilization.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major uses of water in a steam autoclave and approximately how much water is used.
  • Understand the main uses of technology to reduce water consumption and what results can be realiztically expected.
  • Learn how to identify those types of autoclave loads that will demand more water usage and how to best either reconfigure or optimize cycle parameters reduce cycle time
  • Learn how to identify those practices that lead to failed sterilization cycles that must be re-sterilized.


Ken Ungar is currently the product manager for steam sterilization products for STERIS Corporation. In his eight years with STERIS Mr. Ungar has worked closely with both Research and Bio-Pharmaceutical customers in many capacities, including new product development and developing education material for Customer use. Recently, Mr. Ungar's focus has been on developing educational material focused on sterilization principles along with ways to create more efficient loads and cycles.


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