While it might work for some things it is not an acceptable replacement as it does not reach the same temperature and pressure levels that an autoclave can. An instant pot will reach 115-118°C while an autoclave exceeds that at 121-135°C. The pressure is also higher due to the increased temp with an instant pot at 10.15-11.6 psi while an autoclave hits 15-45 psi.
This means that there are levels of sterilization that an instant pot
can't achieve due to not being able to get as hot.
According the the NCBI, it depends on the nature of the work undertaken and it seems the instant pot did the best work of the reviewed machines.
Temperature is the cooking temperature in the cooking pot throughout
the cooking process. The peak working temperature of Instant Pot® is
115°C-118°C or 239°F-244°F. However, the smart cooking programs don’t
always maintain the peak temperature.
Pressure: When the liquid content in the cooking port reaches the
natural boiling point (varies depending on the altitude of your
location), steam builds up in the cooking pot and generates
pressurization. The thermodynamics of gas indicates that in ideal
cases the product of the pressure and volume of a gas is directly
proportional to the temperature. Since the volume in the cooking pot
is a constant, we can consider the pressure being linearly related to
the temperature of the gas, and to large extent (with delaying effect)
to the temperature of the liquid content. The working pressure of
Instant Pot is 10.15-11.6 psi (pound-force per square inch).
Q: What temperature(s) can an autoclave reach? A: Autoclaves are
typically designed to reach temperatures between 250°F and 275°F
(121°C and 135°C).
All autoclaves operate under elevated pressure (14–45 pound-force per
square inch gauge) and must therefore be manufactured with an
incredibly robust construction and fitted with a number of safety
features and devices to ensure they present no danger to users. One of
these safety devices is the safety valve, which is the final fail-safe
device for the pressure vessel should all electronic controls fail. It
is imperative that the safety valve be inspected, tested, and verified
to be in proper working condition based on the recommendations of the
sterilizer and/or valve manufacturer, as well as local inspection and
I broke the quoted part into two sections to help ensure information about the instant pot compared to the others was easier to see.
Assessment and verification of commercially available pressure cookers for laboratory sterilization
This work examines the use of commercial electric pressure cookers as
an alternative method for the sterilization of media, instruments, and
waste. Four commonly available brands of pressure cooker were tested
for their ability to sterilize microbiological media, a variety of
metal instruments, and high-titer microbial cultures. All four
pressure cookers were able to sterilize these starting materials as
well as a range of microbial types, including Gram-positive bacteria,
Gram-negative bacteria, filamentous fungi, unicellular fungi, and
mixed environmental samples.
Only the Instant Pot, however, was able to sterilize autoclave tester
ampoules of Geobacillus stearothermophilus spores. These results
suggest that, depending on the nature of the work undertaken,
store-bought pressure cookers can be an appropriate substitute for