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Chapter 5 : Physical Sterilization

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Abstract:

Chapter 2 described the various physical disinfection methods. The basic concepts behind many of these methods also apply to physical sterilization techniques. Sterilization is a process used to render a surface or product free from viable organisms, including bacterial spores. The methods of sterilization discussed in this chapter are the most widely used physical sterilization techniques and include the use of moist heat, dry heat, and radiation. Heat-based methods were previously discussed as physical disinfection methods (chapter 2, section 2.2). Moist heat (steam) processes, based on the application of steam under pressure, are the most widely used methods of heat-based sterilization and are considered the most reliable. High-temperature dry-heat sterilization methods are also used for particular applications, including the incineration of contaminated waste products and materials. Low-temperature alternatives of physical sterilization include the high-energy ionizing radiation methods (including X rays, γ rays, and electron beams [E beams]), although these are used primarily for industrial applications (for an introduction to radiation see section 2.4). This chapter also includes a discussion of some of the developing methods of physical sterilization, including plasma, pulsed light, supercritical fluids, and pulsed electric fields, that have been successfully used in some applications.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Figures

Image of FIGURE 5.1
FIGURE 5.1

The relationship between saturated steam temperature and pressure.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.2
FIGURE 5.2

Steam sterilizers come in a variety of sizes and shapes depending on their application. In addition, the steam sterilization process can be conducted as an intrinsic part of some manufacturing or industrial equipment, which can be routinely sterilized without being disassembled (“steam-in-place”).

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.3
FIGURE 5.3

The basic design of an upward-displacement steam sterilizer.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.4
FIGURE 5.4

The basic design of a downward-displacement steam sterilizer.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.5
FIGURE 5.5

The basic design of a prevacuum steam sterilizer.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.6
FIGURE 5.6

Typical team sterilization cycles, showing different mechanisms of air removal and load conditioning prior to sterilization.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.7
FIGURE 5.7

An example of a Bowie-Dick test pack, a method of testing the steam penetration and air removal capabilities of a vacuum sterilizer. A single-use test pack is shown (left). It consists of a chemical indicator at the center of the test pack, which changes color on exposure to the correct combination of time, temperature, and steam. Examples of unexposed, failed, and pass chemical indicator results are shown (right). Image courtesy of STERIS, with permission.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.8
FIGURE 5.8

Typical water pretreatment systems for the production of steam.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.9
FIGURE 5.9

Effect of temperature on the lethality of a spore population with a D of 1 minute and a value of 10°C.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.10
FIGURE 5.10

A series of industrial dry-heat sterilizers used for dry-heat sterilization and depyrogenation. Image courtesy of Bosch.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.11
FIGURE 5.11

Representative effect of humidity/water content on the dry-heat resistance of bacterial spores.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.12
FIGURE 5.12

Generation and decay of Co.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.13
FIGURE 5.13

The generation of X rays. Electrons are produced from the cathode and react with atoms at the anode to produce electrons by two mechanisms discussed in the text.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.14
FIGURE 5.14

A simplified linear high-energy E-beam generator.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.15
FIGURE 5.15

A typical γ irradiator sterilizer.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.16
FIGURE 5.16

A typical exposure rack containing Co as a γ-radiation source with a γ irradiator sterilizer.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.17
FIGURE 5.17

A typical E-beam sterilizer; an X-ray sterilizer can be in a similar orientation, with an X-ray source as an alternative to the E-beam accelerator.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.18
FIGURE 5.18

Example of plasma generation with oxygen gas (O).

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.19
FIGURE 5.19

An example of a pulsed-light sterilizer. Image courtesy of XENON Corporation, with permission.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 5.20
FIGURE 5.20

The relationship between solid, liquid, gas, and supercritical fluid states for a substance. As the temperature and pressure increase, the substance can exist in each state. Above the critical temperature (T) and pressure (P), the substance demonstrates combined properties of a liquid and a gas and is known as a supercritical fluid.

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
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References

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Tables

Generic image for table
TABLE 5.1

Common steam contaminants and their effects

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.2

Typical quality of water for injection and clean steam

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.3

Typical steam sterilization cycles

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.4

Examples of standards and guidelines for steam sterilization applications

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.5

Typical steam sterilization cycles recommended for prion inactivation on contaminated surfaces. Similar methods are used for liquid or tissue-contaminated materials (see chapter 8, section 8.9)

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.6

Examples of bacterial spore resistance to dry heat at 160°C

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.7

Example of materials disinfected and/or sterilized by radiation

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.8

Typical doses of radiation for biocidal and other applications

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5
Generic image for table
TABLE 5.9

Examples of standards and guidelines for radiation sterilization applications

Citation: McDonnell G. 2017. Physical Sterilization, p 185-214. In McDonnell G, Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization: Types, Action, and Resistance, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819682.ch5

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