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 ("autos", 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, etc. 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 metal.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)