When it comes to Lab safety, one of the main considerations is that there must be a reliant barrier between personnel and the materials that they are handling. Glove boxes are an essential part of almost all experimentation and manufacturing industries. Nuclear Glove Boxes were first used in the 1940s for research of radioactive metals in the military. Later on, regulation led to the sealed containers being known as Class III Biosafety Cabinets. Production increased as the medical industry began experimentation on viruses and creating vaccines.
Glove boxes are controlled environments that are configured as per requirements for various uses. A Biosafety Cabinets would have been utilized frequently in developing the covid-19 vaccine.
Some of the industries that use glove box systems are:
- Meteorite Nitrogen Glove box Isolators
As a U.S. funded program, Antarctic meteorites are collected and conserved to study the stardust on them. With this research, scientists are able to determine useful information regarding formation of the solar system and their knowledge about stars and their role. Study of these meteorites also enables scientists to apprehend knowledge of evolution and age. Glove box isolators play an important role in the study of these space rocks. They maintain a low-particle, low-humidity environment, to maintain a favorable atmosphere for the study.
Free space atmosphere is simulated by using inert nitrogen gas which keeps moisture at bay. As per NASA, over 17,000 meteorite samples have been sent out to different scientific centers for research purposes. These samples also include fragments of other planets and crystals and rocks older than earth.
2. Radio Frequency (RF) Sealing
Another area where glove box systems are widely utilized is for the preservation of antiques. Artifacts such as manuscripts or fossils are important for the study of evolution of species and about the origin of earth, and its history.
Special RF Sealing Isolators are used to preserve delicate specimens and fragile antiques. Specimens are dried in vacuum antechambers before and after they are passed on to the main glove box that is calibrated as nitrogen-purged isolators for RF sealing. Hence a low relative-humidity design is created that eliminates the risk of any moisture damage and at the same time, it provides clear visibility for easy research and operation.
3. Packaging Lithium Battery Electrodes
Lithium batteries have thousands of uses and applications ranging from our everyday household items to medical, military, and various other fields. Lithium battery electrodes, if not properly sealed, explode in the presence of oxygen. This is where Lithium Battery Electrode Glove Box Isolators are used to process them. Low-moisture conditions are generated for radio frequency (RF) sealing by using a humidity-control isolation glove box. On the other hand, oxygen levels are brought down to one part per million (ppm). In this way, safe handling of the lithium batteries is ensured.
4. Suspicious Mail Investigations
Another interesting use of the Glove Boxes is for mail handling at the Postal Services. Packages are first kept in the mail-room glove boxes and are examined for safety purposes. Once ensured that they are safe and do not contain any harmful materials, they are distributed to companies and individuals.
Any harmful articles are filtered out during mail processing. The testing area is also sealed for safety if a harmful item is identified. This process has greatly reduced the chances of delivery of any suspicious items.
5. Horticulture Research
To analyze the development stages of a plant and how environmental conditions affect the growth of a plant, a unique Terrarium glove box is designed. In this glove box, carbon dioxide levels are controlled in the top-level vents. An air-meter is installed that keeps track of any oxygen build-up in the chamber. Hollow tubes, which are located at the base of the isolation chamber, are used to look and observe closely the growth of a plant. Soil quality and root growth can also be examined.
Four separate controlled spaces are created within a single glove box by using clear dividers. Each is provided with glove ports, access doors, and air vents. Such a divided glove box is perfect for examination of plants.