Glovebox systems comprise of a container in which several materials are being kept in a sterile atmosphere. If you are working in an environment where there are chances of contamination, you have to use it anyhow. It is a prerequisite. The system is extremely simple. Just insert the hands inside the box with gloves on and perform the task. Most of the time, the box is transparent in color. This enables the worker to see the movements of the hands while inside the box.
Types of Glovebox Systems:
There are mainly two kinds of boxes. The first one is related to radioactive materials and other materials concerned with infectious diseases. The second type of box utilizes the working of materials that require an inert atmosphere. These are mostly gases like argon and nitrogen. You can even use it inside the vacuum chamber.
There is an inert gas inside the glovebox. The original gases are removed, with solvents, water, and oxygen. There is another way to remove the gases from the glovebox systems. It involves the introduction of a copper coil that is most commonly used to remove the gas. Many times, chemists use the box to transfer solids from one container to the other.
General Usage Guidelines On Using Glovebox Systems:
There is nothing on earth that has no limitations. The same applies to the box. The box is not perfect in culture. You will find that there are small holes inside the box. Therefore, the box is always kept under a good amount of pressure. Hence, the entire activity of introducing the glove-led hands and then change the gloves have to be performed with a lot of care. Any kind of hastening, due to the process, can lead to a sudden fall in pressure inside the box.
The glovebox contains a closed loop that consists of a blower, a plumbing system, and a purifier to do the job for you. It helps to maintain H2O AND O2 levels that should be lower than one ppm. The air is passed over a catalyst to remove moisture and oxygen. These are considered to be the most reactive elements. After using the copper catalysts for a good length of time, they need to be changed or replaced after 3-6 months. Certain volatile chemicals like thiols should not be used inside the glovebox as they can lead to poisoning.
Moreover, those laboratory technicians who are working with glovebox systems have to remember to get some sort of training before doing the work. You should remember to de-gas the chamber and the chemicals used as well. Moreover, you should remember to evacuate the glass vessels or the flasks before placing them side the system. You should try to avoid handling sharp objects, that have the ability to damage the gloves. Furthermore, there are some materials that do not go with the box, and one has to use a Schlenk line.
Transferring ObjectsIntoThe Box:
- The default position of the box comes with both doors closed. It is the inherent position of the box. If you find that the chamber is under vacuum, then it should be injected with Nitrogen.
- In the next step, you have to open the outside door and transfer the object inside. Put the object deep inside the box. Then, you need to shut the door of the antechamber. Never tighten the door, as it may lead to pressure build-up.
- After you have closed the door, turn on the valve to evacuate the chamber. Repeat the cycle of the introduction of the gas thrice.
- Once, the closing and related cycles are complete, fill the chamber with Nitrogen. Now, remove the material from the antechamber and place it in the main chamber.
This is how the whole cycle works. Now, we will learn how the transfer of objects from the Glovebox systems to the external chamber happens.
Transfer Of Objects Out Of The Box:
- Moreover, you need to make sure that the antechamber has a good amount of Nitrogen inside.
- Now, you have to open the internal door and send the object to the antechamber. Chemicals should always be sealed. Close the inner door as quickly as possible.
- Now, open the door of the box and remove the objects.
- Now, close the outer door of the box and then evacuate. The antechamber should always be under constant vacuum.
Transferring chemicals, solvents, and waste disposal is also an important part of the process. Always, ensure to remove the hands from gloves slowly. Otherwise sudden pressure changes can disrupt the entire cycle.
Glove boxes are used in laboratories that deal with reactive materials. They are suitable for chemicals and reactive sensitive elements that are air, or water-sensitive. There is another system called the Schlenk line, which acts as an alternate option to these Gloveboxes. Now, labs can conduct sensitive experiments under sterile conditions with ease.