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Retort vs. Autoclave: When to Use Which

food lab research & development retort

Priorclave produces steam autoclaves for research and development in a number of sectors, including the food and beverage industry. While we do not produce an industrial-sized retort for food processing, we do design research and development retorts. 

Research and development retorts are autoclaves that simulate the action of a full-size retort, albeit on a smaller scale. They can precisely mimic the steam, temperature and pressure conditions of your full-sized retort sterilizer. They allow you to fully explore potential food production and packaging approaches in smaller batches, without the waste of firing up a full-sized industrial retort sterilizer. You can try entirely new approaches, establishing the exact operating parameters your new production retorts will need to meet before spending a cent on expensive new equipment.

A programmable research and development autoclave is also extremely useful in accelerated aging and shelf-life testing, as it simulates the impact of heat and time on packaging over long periods of time, with multiple heating and cooling cycles.

Considering Research and Development Retorts?

A production retort is a type of autoclave used to process foods and beverages for longer shelf-life. It sterilizes food using water and steam under pressure, after packaging and before being sent to market. Retorts are large-scale machines, capable of sterilizing massive quantities in containers of all sizes, shapes, and materials. Production retorts are used at large scale and to meet food industry regulatory requirements as well as extend shelf-life. They usually offer a fairly narrow range of sterilization procedures known to deliver the desired results for a given type of packaging or product.

But what if you’re not processing food and beverage products for market? Are you product testing, or sorting out the science behind a new production method? Perhaps trying to decide what kind of packaging works best? Or even determining what sterilization process best preserves your product’s most important traits?

When your lab is working on a smaller scale making these foundational decisions, you don’t need the massive processing volume—or floorspace and expense—of an industrial retort sterilizer. Because it is an autoclave built for maximum program flexibility, a research and development retort from Priorclave can do all the usual things any autoclave can (like sterilizing glassware and lab tools, or preparing growth media for culturing spores or fungus). But it can also simulate the full range of retort sterilization environments, but at smaller, more workable, volume. That includes full water immersion, partial water immersion, forced steam/air, overpressure, and so on. 

Flexible, Efficient Steam Autoclaves and Retort Machines

Priorclave’s steam autoclaves can be custom configured to recreate any industrial sterilization method, without consuming the enormous volumes of water and energy necessitated by an industrial-sized retort. Whether it’s for food testing, lab quality and assurance, or product design analysis, a research and development autoclave can help you make the best decisions on a small scale, before scaling up.