Glove boxes are enclosed, controlled environment chambers that serve as isolation or containment spaces for laboratory work. Most glove boxes operate in isolation mode, under positive pressure, to protect samples or experiments from the environment. More costly containment boxes shield operators from the process.
Glove boxes are common in biology labs, but Brian Coy, director of marketing at Coy Laboratory Products (Grass Lake, MI), says demand from the biofuels industry has been brisk with renewed interest in alternative energy. Biofuel projects begin with anaerobic bacteria – grown in controlled environment boxes and assayed for their ability to break down organic matter and produce hydrocarbon fuels under nitrogen atmosphere. “This uptick in demand was not due to any technologic breakthrough; it was purely a result of new funding,” Mr. Coy notes.
Mike Buckwalter, publications director at Terra Universal (Fullerton, CA), cautions buyers to be aware of the differences between containment and isolation. “They are not interchangeable,” he says. In the glove box marketplace, Terra’s strength has traditionally been isolation units. But the company has received orders for sophisticated containment boxes as well.
Containment is significantly more expensive than isolation for several reasons. For most isolation applications, where the object under study is not pathogenic, leakage from the box to the lab occurs without dire consequences. In the case of the TB application, a leak could sicken or kill operators. Isolation systems also require a strategy to vent the airborne contents of the glove box to house exhaust in case of emergency.
Sophisticated containment systems often employ PLC (programmable logic control) systems for automating glove box operation. Many also sport graphical human-machine interfaces that list pressure, humidity, and gas composition and depict which valves are open and closed. “Containment involves a lot of valve actuation, pressure monitoring, and airflow management to assure safe
Glove box sterilization is critical for most applications involving organisms, whether pathogenic or not. Glove boxes tend to stay cleaner than simpler tissue culture hoods, but when they become contaminated, they are harder to clean.
Periodic sterilization prevents the viral and bacterial contamination of cell cultures and animal subjects and reduces the likelihood of subsequent infection or cross-contamination in the case of infectious agents.
Hydrogen peroxide vapor is the most efficient way to sterilize a glove box, as the gas penetrates into every corner of the unit. However, the process requires hard-plumbing a gas tank to the side of the glove box, and the gas cylinder must be replaced periodically.
Peroxide is highly caustic, which is bad news for rubber seals and gaskets inside the glove box, and especially dangerous for operators. For these reasons, buyers who desire sterilization are increasingly specifying ultraviolet-C (UV-C) disinfection. UV-C is a short-wavelength irradiation that includes the germicidal 253.7 nm wavelength. UV-C is also hard on rubbers and plastics, but since many materials, including glass, are suitable UV shields, irradiation poses no threat to operators. However, UV disinfection is a line-of-sight technique that only disinfects illuminated areas.
- Assembled in a few seconds, the Pyramid can be used anywhere
- Slanted shape of the enclosure provides an ergonomic working position for the user
- Light, mobile and disposable, it is an ideal protection tool which can suit many requirements in the laboratory or in the field
- Each Pyramid is factory-tested to ensure an air-tight seal
PureLab Acrylic Series
- Provide a reliable yet economical way to conduct air sensitive reactions under inert conditions
- Can be built to order or chosen from standard configurations
- Customers also have choice of other materials of construction to meet their chemical compatibility needs
- No detectable leaks greater than 1 x 10-6 ml/sec
- Filtered Glove Boxes provide inlet and outlet 99.99% efficient HEPA or 99.999% efficient ULPA filtration and a leak-tight physical barrier to protect the operator
- Controlled Atmosphere Glove Boxes exceed Class 1 atmosphere containment conditions for oxygen permeation <1.67 ppm/min
BacBASIC Anaerobic Work Station
- Features “ally designed” arm ports for maximum reach and comfort
- Includes a removable shield for easy introduction of equipment, cleaning and maintenance
- Features a rapid Auto-Purge Pass Box for introducing Petri plates, specimens and supplies (purge time is less than 50 seconds)