What is the Principle of a Glove Box Under Neutral Gas?
A glove box is a hermetic volume where a particular atmosphere is created to handle various elements. It is composed of stainless steel structure, transparent sides with protective gloves, transfer locks, regulators and automatic safety systems.
When the glove box is purified under neutral gas, its atmosphere is permanently renewed and purified by closed-loop recirculation with a gas scrubber. A neutral gas supply connected to the circuit automatically compensates any lack of gas in the glove box. The pure gas replaces the air inside the enclosure to prevent any reaction with the elements handled. The gas purifier removes oxygen, water and solvents.
In addition, the internal pressure of the neutral gas glove box is slightly higher than atmospheric pressure. Thus, atmospheric compounds such as oxygen or moisture are automatically pushed out of the enclosure even if there are leaks. This is known as overpressure operation.
Different Neutral Gases Used in a Glove Box
Neutral or inert gases are gases that do not react with chemical elements during experiments. A gas that is considered neutral during a chemical reaction may not be neutral under other circumstances. What are the gases used to inert a glove box dedicated to the protection of products?
- Argon (Ar);
- Nitrogen (N2) (reactive with titanium or lithium);
- Helium (He), rarely used, more specifically in the industry in mixtures allowing the detection of leaks of a component (for example closing a pacemaker).
There are two types of inert gas glove boxes:
- The lost sweep under gas flow: the atmosphere is renewed by permanent gas sweeping. In this case, the glove box consumes a large volume of inert gas.
- Closed circuit with gas scrubber: the gas circulates in a closed circuit thanks to the purification unit. It also allows a continuous purification of traces of O2 and H20. In this case, the consumption of inert gas is greatly reduced and allows an internal purity in ppm.
Use of Neutral Gases
To ensure the containment of processes or products in a controlled atmosphere, the gas must be purified. Once purified, the gas will allow the creation of a working environment required by products reactive to oxygen and water. Thus, before being introduced into the glove box, the neutral gas will go through a gas purification system. The purification of this gas is essential so that it can have the required quality, guaranteeing the purity necessary for the handling of the products.
After purification, it can be used as a replacement for the air in the glove box. Thus, after this purification, the neutral gas is completely free of oxygen and water. Gas purification is a very important step because only a very small amount of airborne components is needed for some products to react. At only a few ppm, some substances can oxidize or are hygroscopic.
To allow the purification and the renewal of the atmosphere of a glove box, the circulation of neutral gas inside the enclosure must be done correctly. It is therefore essential to use a gas cleaning unit to enable such a process. A gas cleaning system ensures the closed loop recirculation of the gas in the glove box.
A Glove Box Also Includes Other Components
A glove box can consist of various safety components, sensors, regulators, handling gloves and a gas cleaning unit. A hydraulic guard prevents the interior of the box from being overpressurized. All these components contribute to the proper functioning of the glove box.
Several sectors use the neutral gas glove box: microelectronics, organometallic chemistry, aeronautics and space industry, semiconductors, research and development, and many others.
What are the applications of a glove box under neutral gas?
The glove box under inert atmosphere prevents highly reactive materials from coming into contact with atmospheric components. With the neutral gas, oxygen and moisture levels are kept below 1 ppm. It can be used in various industrial and scientific processes. Whether in research, manufacturing or construction, packaging, etc., it is indispensable for any process that otherwise reacts to the ambient air.
Examples of applications of the glove box under neutral gas:
- Strict anaerobic experiments;
- Additive manufacturing;
- Laser welding, welding of titanium, aerospace alloys and superalloys;
- Organometallic chemistry;
- Electrochemical assemblies and tests;
- Material and polymer science, etc.
Jacomex offers a wide choice of glove boxes under neutral gas with increased performance and safety for all your applications. Between standard, modular or customized models, with or without gas scrubber, choose your equipment according to your specific project. We are a worldwide expert in containment technologies provides free, no-obligation quote for your need.