Water Saving for Laboratory Facilities

Water Saving - Autoclaves are the most important piece of equipment used in hospitals and research institutions to disinfect instruments and other items part of the everyday workload. The purpose of sterilisation is to destroy all living microorganisms that include spores, viruses and bacteria including those that cause infection or disease (pathogens). Although other types of sterilisers exist, including dry heat, ethylene oxide, and radiation, steam sterilisers are by a large margin the most widely used form of sterilisation.

Due to the nature of the work undertaken, laboratories and research centers use a significant amount of water during the sterilisation process, making the water saving issue a relevant topic. Indeed, there is a major opportunity to achieve water conservation in these facilities by reducing the water used by sterilisers during operation and standby. Steam sterilisers use water during two distinctive phases: a) conditioning and b) cooling.

Water is used extensively in the conditioning phase to remove air from the chamber and
again in the exhaust phase to remove the steam and dry the load. This water passes
through the ejector and goes directly to drain. Again, water is used to cool the waste the steam sterilisers produce. The steam condensed within the steriliser is then discharged and cooled to below 140°F before reaching the drain. The cooling is achieved by using raw cold water, which mix with the waste to cool it down before reaching the drain.

This has been identified as the main issue to water conservation in many laboratories and research facilities. Many labs have still in use old model autoclaves, which engage in a “constant-bleed” of cold water to cool waste resulting in cold water passing through the steriliser toward the drain 24/7, even when the sterilizer is off.


In normal condition,  a lab research facility uses within 2-4 units of 1344 liters capacity steriliser for 15 cycles per day, 6 days a week for 52 weeks, translating in over 6,458,400 litres of water consumption per year. 


To Make the Difference and overcome the water issue created by the sterilisation process, Steelco has developed ECO water and energy saving solutions for its sterilisers that can reduce overall the water consumption up to 90% with a 13% reduction in energy. These solutions comprehend three packages option that can be added on to the steam steriliser.

Water Saving for Laboratory Facilities - Steelco Eco Options

ECO2Water Saving ECO 1

This option, included as standard, helps to achieve a reduction in water consumption on average of 35% with less water needed to cool down the drain prior to discharge.

• Saves water
• Cools drain water


ECO1Water Saving ECO 2

This option involves the use of chilled water from a chilled water system. It consists of a set of high-efficiency heat exchangers enabling a substantial saving in water consumption by the vacuum pump and over 90% reduction of total water usage. Drain water is also cooled, so that separate tap water does not need to be used to lower the temperature prior to discharge.

• Saves water
• Cools drain water


ECO3Water Saving & Energy Reduction ECO 3

This hybrid system helps to achieve a reduction in water consumption on average of 35% with less water needed to cool down the drain prior to discharge.This configuration features an energy recovery system supplying the steam generator with preheated water. The system provides an energy saving of up to 13% in the production of process steam with the further benefit of having a water supply "buffer", enabling the successful completion of a sterilization cycle in the event of a disruption in water supply

• Saves water
• Saves energy
• Cools drain water
• Creates a water buffer

Find out about.. 

  1. Create awareness of water consumption and associated costs/environmental impacts amongst users;
  2. Monitor consumption to detect leaks and to identify improvement opportunities;
  3. ‘Rightsize’ water-using equipment for tasks and using with as high loadings as possible;
  4. Use closed loop rather than continuous flow cooling;
  5. Use purified water appropriately and sparingly, and producing it by reverse osmosis (RO) wherever possible;
  6. Only buy water efficient devices (see Steam Sterilisers).
  1. Store safely the chemicals and materials and use them effectively.
  2. Check that your freezer is not full of non-essential or unlabelled samples. Make sure that the freezer is defrosted and it is running well
  3. Make sure fume cupboards are kept closed whenever
    possible and turned off at the end of the day
  4. Minimise hazardous or special waste and try to reuse
    or recycled efficiently any materials and equipment
  5. Establish a well structured training to make lab users understand the importance of good practice for environmental improvement with energy and water saving
  6. Ensure scientific equipment is being used efficiently, making lab users
    aware of why equipment is energy intensive and the different ways energy consumption can be managed
  7. Make sure that lighting is appropriated to users requirements and that it is always turned off when not required
  8. Make sure water is being used efficiently and recirculated wherever possible. Purified water should be used appropriately, while a running tap should be used sparingly; glassware or cages should be left soaking before washing.
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