The Biofuel Autoclave: A Low Cost, Non-electric Solution to Infectious Medical Waste

The Biofuel Autoclave pairs a gasketless non-electric autoclave with a highly efficient, low cost cookstove that can be powered by a variety of biofuels. This creates an autoclave that operates independent of the electric grid, lowering the primary barrier to autoclaving being a viable solution everywhere. It is an attractive solution to infectious waste management in rural areas and in disaster situations, when electric autoclaves may not be appropriate.

In May 2014, a joint effort between HCWH, HECAF, UC Berkeley, and InStove was employed to test the Biofuel Autoclave in Kathmandu, Nepal. Testing was performed not only to validate the autoclave but also evaluate which locally available biofuels were suitable for sterilization cycles.

Procedures for validating the efficacy of disinfection were based on challenge testing procedures developed by the GEF-supported UNDP-implemented Global Health Care Waste Project ( Pressure pulsing, a technique of repeatedly building up and releasing steam pressure, was used to flush air from the waste and ensure effective disinfection.

The tests proved that the Biofuel Autoclave is versatile, as intended. It was able to reach sterilization conditions when powered by a variety of fuel sources including wood, biomass briquettes, and biogas. This flexibility of the Biofuel Autoclave makes it a sustainable solution for healthcare facilities in all parts of the world that are handicapped by lack of access to power.