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Transparent Lab Vacuum Glove Box
Dec 17, 2018

A glove box (or glovebox) is a sealed container that is designed to allow one to manipulate objects where a separate atmosphere is desired. Built into the sides of the glove box are gloves arranged in such a way that the user can place their hands into the gloves and perform tasks inside the box without breaking containment. Part or all of the box is usually transparent to allow the user to see what is being manipulated. Two types of glove boxes exist. The first allows a person to work with hazardous substances, such as radioactive materials or infectious disease agents, and the second allows manipulation of substances that must be contained within a very high purity inert atmosphere, such as argon or nitrogen. It is also possible to use a glove box for manipulation of items in a vacuum chamber.


The gas in a glove box is pumped through a series of treatment devices which remove solvents, water and oxygen from the gas. Heated copper metal (or some other finely divided metal) is commonly used to remove oxygen, this oxygen removing column is normally regenerated by passing a hydrogen/nitrogen mixture through it while it is heated: the water formed is passed out of the box with the excess hydrogen and nitrogen. It is common to use molecular sieves to remove water by absorbing it in the molecular sieves' pores. Such a box is often used by organometallic chemists to transfer dry solids from one container to another container.


An alternative to using a glove box for air sensitive work is to employ Schlenk methods using a Schlenk line. One disadvantage of working in a glove box is that organic solvents will attack the plastic seals. As a result, the box will start to leak and water and oxygen can then enter the box. Another disadvantage of a glove box is that oxygen and water can diffuse through the plastic gloves.


Glove boxes are also used in the biological sciences when dealing with anaerobes or high-biosafety level pathogens.

Glove box

Glove boxes used for hazardous materials are generally maintained at a lower pressure than the surrounding atmosphere, so that microscopic leaks result in air intake rather than hazard outflow. Glove boxes used for hazardous materials generally incorporate HEPA filters into the exhaust, to keep the hazard contained.

Inert atmosphere glove boxes are typically kept at a higher pressure than the surrounding air, so that any microscopic leaks are mostly leaking inert gas out of the box instead of letting air in.


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