MadgeTech Blog

What is F0 and Why is it Important for Sterilization?

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Although the formula for determining an F0 value is quite scientific, the logic behind it can be compared to an ordinary task that we can all relate to. When baking brownies, the box says to bake them at 350 °F for 35 minutes. However, because we are sometimes impatient, the batter is put in when the oven is only preheated to 200 °F. So, what happens while the oven continues to ramp up the temperature to reach 350 °F? Of course, the brownies do not wait, and the batter partially cooks during this time, which impacts the overall duration required and results in potentially undercooked or overcooked brownies.

A similar logic applies to using an autoclave for sterilizing medical equipment. There are certain time and temperature thresholds that m­­ust be met in order to kill harmful organisms and achieve safe sterilization. Sterilizing at a lower temperature increases the amount of time required, whereas the higher temperatures will achieve sterilization much faster. The calculation for F0 in a particular application is the formula used to ensure efficient and effective sterilization is achieved.

There are many factors that are considered such as cycle speed, efficiency, and product exposure to find the right balance for managing sterilization cycles. Over sterilizing, at high temperatures for too long, can be costly or potentially begin to cause degradation to the devices being sterilized. Underexposure or temperatures that are too low will not provide adequate sterilization. Depending upon the product being sterilized, there is often an industry standard to ensure the depletion of all potentially harmful bacteria and a baseline that is used in determining the F0 value.

Just as the brownies are partially cooked before reaching 350 °F, some bacteria will be killed before the autoclave reaches 121 °C. To take this into account, the F0 calculation is used to show the equivalent of heating something at a lower temperature. For instance, let’s use an example product that must be held at 121 °C for 12 minutes to achieve sterility. If the autoclave was only heated to 100 °C, it would take longer than 12 minutes to reach the proper sterility. The F0 calculation tells users this value, so the cycle is not extended beyond what is necessary, saving both time and energy.

With the MadgeTech Data Logger Software, a number of sterilization units can easily be applied and displayed in reports. This gives users the ability to see the process of sterilization that occurred during the entire cycle, including during the ramp-up time. To learn more about this feature of the software, contact our Technical Sales team today.

The Concrete Business is Stronger than Ever

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As communities continue to grow and become more developed around the world, one common ingredient is inevitably used: concrete. From sidewalks to floors, driveways, house foundations or skyscrapers, concrete is the prime choice as a base for creating sturdy structures. Concrete is also growing in popularity for more aesthetic interior applications as well, such as counter tops, sinks and other custom formations.

Despite concrete’s growing list of uses, the steps required to create it have not really changed. The process is quite time consuming and requires specific environmental conditions to create an ideal product with adequate strength and sturdiness.

Once concrete has been mixed, it is poured into the desired location and left to harden, a process referred to as curing. The American Concrete Institute (ACI) generally recommends a minimum of seven days of curing for the product to become hard. Depending on temperatures and specific mixtures, some concrete requires as much as a 28-day curing period.

Time is one factor, but temperature also plays an important role in the correct curing of concrete. Ambient temperatures must remain above 40 °F during the entire curing process. Of course, higher temperatures can be used to speed up the curing process, however, lower temperatures with longer curing times tend to produce the strongest and hardest concrete.

Surprisingly, concrete hardening is not actually the product drying, but is rather a chemical reaction between the concrete and water. For this reason, keeping the concrete wet during the curing process is crucial. If the concrete dries out, it has higher chances of cracking and will become permeable, an undesirable trait causing weakness in the final product.

MadgeTech’s line of concrete curing data loggers are designed to accurately measure the internal temperature of the concrete throughout the entire curing process to ensure proper temperature thresholds are maintained. Thermocouple probes are used to measure the internal temperature of the product while curing, providing a thorough record of the process instead of just the ambient air temperature

Although MadgeTech offers a wide selection of data loggers for monitoring concrete, the RFTCTemp2000A stands out as the top choice for many. This wireless data logger accepts Type K thermocouple probes and measures ambient temperature simultaneously. The RFTCTemp2000A records and writes temperature readings to memory but can also transmit data in real time to the MadgeTech Data Logger Software and to the MadgeTech Cloud.

With an internet-enabled PC or Laptop at the curing location, data can be instantly sent to the MadgeTech Cloud for remote access. This allows users to monitor temperature levels for multiple job sites or facilities from any PC, mobile phone or tablet, anytime, from anywhere. Eliminating the need for constant checking and manual measuring on site.

For more information on data loggers and their role in concrete curing, please contact MadgeTech’s technical sales staff at (603) 456-2011.