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Now Is Not the Time to Waste Water

Is Tap Water Bad for Your Steam Autoclave?

These last 22-years have been the driest since the year 800, according to a new study. Not only that, but “the 21st century has been substantially drier than the previous five decades, with 8.3 percent less precipitation, and nearly 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) warmer than the period from 1950 to 1999.”

Translation? The more arid it gets, the more arid it will get.

So this is clearly no time to be wasting water. Yet even with so many hours of research devoted to trying to turn back the tide of the climate crisis, North American research labs are often hugely wasteful. 

Doing the Right Research with the Wrong Autoclave

Labs generally consume a lot of resources. A good deal of “sustainability research” is still done in labs that are not yet operating sustainably. According to most estimates, a research lab’s energy consumption is 3 to 10 times greater than that of similarly sized office spaces. 

One way research labs often unnecessarily contribute to their waste (and global climate change) is by choosing jacketed autoclaves when they don’t need them. Jacketed autoclaves use enormous amounts of water in order to provide features few labs need or want. 

Stanford University’s 2015 energy audit showed lab equipment consuming more energy than all equipment types on campus combined. 167 jacketed autoclaves used about the same amount of energy as almost 20,000 computer monitors. 

The University of California at Riverside found that jacketed autoclaves in their research labs consumed 5 to 6 times more water than expected—even when the machines weren’t in use! In one case of a particularly bad purpose-design fit, a properly functioning jacketed autoclave that was idle for 39-days used 16,000 gallons of water, just sitting there. 

Given the gravity of the research goals and the dwindling resources available to address them, if you haven’t yet, it’s time to ask yourself if your lab really needs a jacketed model—or if an unjacketed autoclave might do the same important work with less waste.

Does Your Research Lab Really Need a Jacketed Lab Autoclave?

Probably not. You might need to consider a jacketed lab autoclave if you need a high throughput machine that will operate continuously, 24/7/365. These machines are necessary in hospitals or pharmaceutical industry labs, but other labs have better options—better for their workflow and, often, better for the earth.