The setting up of a laboratory or other environment controlled rooms is needed because there is a need to control the atmosphere where experiments, testing or sensitive manufacturing processes will take place. Typically the processes needing to be conducted are sensitive to oxygen and contaminants that are in the normal atmosphere. These include: dust, water vapor, carbon dioxide, human skin and fibrous materials from carpets shoes and furniture.
Because these contaminants can negatively impact the desired processes, a tightly controlled environment is created and maintained. Those executing the processes must do all they can to ensure all precautions are taken so that nothing will contaminate their environment and the valuable assets contained within them. The success of their efforts has great bearing on the outcome of the experiment research or manufacturing process.
When there is additional environmental control needed within the lab or other controlled environment, additional equipment is employed. This equipment can provide even more stringent or special environmental circumstances on an as needed basis. One of the pieces of equipment that is often used is a nitrogen glove box.
Nitrogen Glove Box
A nitrogen glove box is a completely sealed plastic or plastic and steel box whose inside temperature, humidity and make up of gasses can be manipulated. The box contains gloves that are connected to the box, allowing someone to go into the completely sealed chamber and manipulate what is inside or conduct experiments. Part or all of the glove box is usually transparent to allow the user to see what is being manipulated. Two types of glove boxes exist: one allows a person to work with hazardous substances, such as radioactive materials or infectious disease agents; the other allows manipulation of substances that must be contained within a very high purity inert atmosphere, such as argon or nitrogen. These gases are used to purge the oxygen from the glove box lowering the humidity inside and allowing for experiments and other processes that require this type of environment.
Glove boxes can also be used to keep hazardous materials from contaminating or negatively affecting those in the lab or other controlled environment. A good example is a laboratory that is working with uranium. A primary goal of the lab will be to protect the workers in that lab from contamination. There are glove boxes that allow for the manipulation of uranium but also shield those handling the uranium from its deadly effects.
Nitrogen glove boxes have been instrumental in assisting in breakthroughs in the fields of medicine, biofuels, bioremediation, technology manufacturing and new drug discovery. Glove boxes contain controls that allow for the controlling and the confirmation of the environment within the box. Reading for oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity levels are standard and included on all glove boxes.
The use of these highly sensitive and effective tools continues to allow those working in controlled environments to break new ground.