‘Plug and play’ autoclaves for a £4.2m research hub

Published: 13-Jul-2022

Steriliser and autoclave specialist Astell installs ‘plug & play’ autoclaves at a £4.2m EU-backed Secure Facility for Animal & Human Pathogen Research. Liza Parkinson tells all on the design and build process

It's not glamorous, and it only grabs headlines when things go wrong, but it's one of the most rewarding and valuable things I've ever done" says Dr Chris Pirson, VetHub Laboratory Manager and Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor. His job is to keep people safe at VetHub, a £4.2m state-of-the-art veterinary hub providing secure high-specification laboratories to drive forward research in animal and human pathogens.

Based on the Aberystwyth University's Penglais Campus, researchers will be looking at developing solutions for animal-borne diseases that could pass to humans.

Funding for the project came from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government.

The new laboratories are classified as containment level 3 (CL3)

VetHub is part of Aberystwyth University's Institute for Biology, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS), a Royal Society of Biology accredited research and teaching centre providing a unique base for research in response to global challenges such as food security, bioenergy and sustainability, and the impacts of climate change.

Meeting CL3 Sterilisation Requirements

The new laboratories are classified as containment level 3 (CL3) for work with high-risk biological agents and hazards. As such, sterilisation of instruments, glassware and media is vital, as is sterilisation of waste.

The contract for equipping the new laboratories was won by Fisher Scientific, who worked with IBERS to develop a specification for the supply of the four critical autoclaves.

The requirements included; CL3 filters on the exhaust of each autoclave to prevent egress of dangerous pathogens, an ability to process multiple loads quickly and a small footprint for the smaller laboratories. In addition, the autoclaves had to have a simple-to-use interface with various levels of user access control to provide simple operation for laboratory users, but with secure access for the technical staff and laboratory manager. Fisher Scientific turned to Astell.

Astell's Solution

Astell supplied four top-loading compact AMA440 (63L capacity) autoclaves to process labware, media and hazardous laboratory waste in the CL3 laboratories. Chris Pirson is extremely pleased with the result. "As a biological safety professional my expertise is in the development of methods, the delivery and design of training, and implementation of safe methods of working with dangerous and novel materials", he says. "Astell's 'plug and play' approach makes this much easier, and the units are on wheels so can be moved around if the need arises." Maintenance of these critical autoclaves is essential and Chris says that Astell staff have always been approachable and helpful."The service engineers are knowledgeable and very helpful, even with small technical questions".

The Astell AMA Autoclave range features:

  • Self-contained 'plug and play' for ease of installation
  • Castor mounted for easy movement
  • Media Hold Warm and delayed start facility
  • Electro-polished stainless-steel pressure vessel in accordance with PED 5.7" colour touch screen with integrated USB port
  • Cooling lock to prevent the door from opening until temperature is safe
  • IQ/OQ documentation

First published in Labmate UK & Ireland, Volume 47, Issue 2

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