Glove boxes are completely closed compartments ranging in size from a few cubic feet to several hundred cubic feet. They differ from other safety enclosures in two ways: users can introduce articles into glove boxes and manipulate them inside through ports fitted with gloves, and glove boxes typically use a specialized atmosphere.
Glove boxes consist of the main chamber, two glove ports, and an airlocked antechamber for introducing labware and materials into the box. Opening the antechamber without taking preventive measures will introduce ambient atmosphere into the working chamber. This is dealt with by providing vacuum-assisted purging with the desired atmosphere. Sensitive applications will often add sensors for oxygen and/or water, with some type of scavenger mechanism to achieve ppm concentrations of those species. In regulated industries, the purge cycle is software-controlled and documented to ensure that materials are handled to specification.
Although glove boxes are most often associated with biology, all scientific and engineering disciplines use glove boxes for one application or another. They are most commonly used when a process or operation requires low humidity or low oxygen levels, or when either the product/ process must be protected from the lab environment or the operator needs protection from the process or operation. One often hears the terms “isolation” and “containment” with respect to glove boxes. Isolation is meant to protect the product, while containment refers to protecting the operator and/or environment. Isolation normally involves positive pressure, while containment operates under negative pressure.
A quick online shopping search for “glove box” leads to a dizzying array of devices ranging in price from $411 to $50,000, from simple plastic boxes to sophisticated mini– clean rooms that meet ISO sterility requirements. Glove boxes for regulated industries will almost always include pressure gauges, validatable oxygen and moisture monitoring, and built-in data transmission.
According to Bob Applequist, product manager at Labconco (Kansas City, MO), price is the principal factor affecting most glove box purchase decisions. “Most of our customers have to watch their budgets.”
Any glove box can achieve very low oxygen or moisture readings, he explains, “but the cleaner it is on the inside relative to the outside, the greater the equilibrium difference.” Without taking additional measures, he says, “oxygen and moisture can creep up to 10 percent in 10 minutes.”
Customers, he says, often over specify for oxygen and moisture removal based not on actual data but on perception or assumption. “They know they want low oxygen and moisture, but when you ask them how low, 95 percent don’t really know. Maintaining 1 ppm levels 24 hours a day will be quite expensive, particularly with respect to scavenger systems.”
• Features a HEPA inlet filter for a particulate-free internal
• Closing two internal valves creates a controlled atmosphere that can be pressurized up to ±5 inches water gauge achieving a leak-tight inert atmosphere
• Physical barrier and filtration system protects user from exposure to hazardous materials
PureLab HE Series
• Provides a < 1 ppm O2 and H2O Inert Atmosphere
• Includes a single-column gas purification system as standard (dual-column available)
• Expansion features include additional antechambers for thru flow work processes, cold storage freezers, process vacuum ovens and furnaces
• Complete glovebox system with gas purification; for users with limited space
• Can be supplied with a stand, or fits on any standard benchtop
• Capable of producing a < 1 ppm oxygen- and moisture-free environment
• Features a one-piece radius corner construction for easy cleaning
LC Technology Solutions
• Features smooth, ultra-clean surfaces to eliminate germ traps and simplify cleaning and disinfection
• Continuous-seam interiors create a hermetically sealed chamber
•Each chamber includes a pair of 10-inch diameter glove ports (twin models include two pairs)