When a process requires complete isolation from atmospheric gasses, or fail-safe isolation from atmospheric pollution or microbes, a physical barrier is generally required.  If interaction is required in such a barrier isolation system, an Isolation glove box is often the solution.  An isolation glove box may be either a sealed system, a ventilated system or a purged, pressurized system.

An isolation glove box is an enclosure that includes a physical barrier surrounding the isolated work zone, and mounted gloves for access to the interior.  Effective isolation glove box or barrier isolator enclosures typically include the following elements:

  • The physical barrier or shell that separates the isolated interior from the outside ambient environment, including walls, floor and ceiling/roof
  • Gloves mounted in the shell or wall that provide interior access to a worker on the outside of the enclosure; they generally are mounted using air-tight seals or clamps so that glove interior is part of the outside/user environment, and glove exterior is part of the isolated work zone
  • A door, air-lock or opening system to allow insertion and removal of materials and tools
  • A window or video system and lighting system to support observation of the isolated space
  • A stand or support surface to position the Isolation Glove Box in a comfortable and efficient location for staff access

Most isolation glove box cabinets will also include one or more of the following features that depend on the application, process requirements or manufacturer design:

  • Gas or clean/sterile air injection system for pressurization or environmental purge
  • Pressure control or ventilation system
  • Vacuum pump system for evacuation of impure or natural atmosphere
  • UV sterilization system for bio-decontamination
  • Chemical cleaning or sterilization system for the interior
  • Filters for cleaning gas or air to be injected
  • Filters for cleaning exhaust gas or air
  • Filtered vents for maintaining neutral pressure without excessive contamination
  • Instrumentation for monitoring and/or controlling pressure, flow, oxygen concentration, water vapor concentration, CO2 concentration or other gas quality parameters
  • Alert or alarm systems for pressure, leakage or atmospheric purity degradation
  • Gas tight cable pass-through bulkheads for sensor, control and/or power cables
  • Gas tight fluid line pass-through bulkheads for water, cleaners, coolants, gasses or chemicals needed for processing or as inputs to or outputs from the isolated process
  • Manual or automated purge system for removing and replacing the atmosphere
  • Recirculating laminar air wash (or gas wash) system for clean processing
  • Chemical gas treatment/processing system or “dry train” for maintaining or improving atmosphere quality by removing or adjusting oxygen, water vapor or other levels

Nearly every type of glove box or barrier isolation chamber may be considered an isolation glove box if it has glove ports or access irises.

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