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AUTOCLAVE, a strong closed vessel of metal in which liquids can
be heated above their boiling points under pressure. Etymologically the
word indicates a self-closing vessel (αὐτός, self, and clavis,
key, or clavus, nail), in which the tightness of the joints is
maintained by the internal pressure, but this characteristic is
frequently wanting in the actual apparatus to which the name is applied.
The prototype of the autoclave was the digester of Denis Papin, invented
in 1681, which is still used in cooking, but the appliance finds a much
wider range of employment in chemical industry, where it is utilized in
various forms in the manufacture of candles, coal-tar colours, &c.
Frequently an agitator, passing through a stuffing-box, is fitted so that
the contents may be stirred, and renewable linings are provided in cases
where the substances under treatment exert a corrosive action on
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