Vigor Gloveboxes at a glance...

What is a glovebox?

A glovebox is a piece of laboratory equipment that completely isolates the interior atmosphere from the impurities of the outside environment. Users can work inside the glovebox via the gloveports, windows and antechambers. There are many reasons for using a glovebox: a glovebox can protect users when they want to operate with toxic or flammable materials. A glovebox can prevent contamination when the dust or bacteria in our atmosphere destroy sensitive materials. A glovebox can also be filled with an inert gas (e.g. nitrogen, argon, or helium) that will protect highly reactive substances from ubiquitous molecules such as water, oxygen, or even nitrogen.

There are three main types of gloveboxes:

1.     Vacuum glovebox: This type of glovebox is kept under vacuum unless it is in operation, at which time it is filled with inert gas. Water and oxygen impurity levels are usually around 100 ppm.  

2.     Purge glovebox: This type of glovebox continuously purges with inert gas in order to remove the water, oxygen and/or dust. Therefore, they will consume a lot of inert gas during the operation. The control of oxygen and water levels is usually around 10 ppm. 

3. Circulation glovebox: This type of glovebox has a purification system that circulates the gas in the glovebox over a catalyst to lower trace impurities, oxygen, and water to levels below 1 ppm. Circulation requires a programmable logic controller (PLC) and complex operating system -- this is the kind of glovebox you want for truly sensitive research. 

What are the core technologies of a glovebox?

The oxygen content in the atmosphere is roughly 21%, but the oxygen level in a glovebox is ideally lower than 1 ppm. This concentration difference is more than a million times. If there is a small leak in a glovebox, it will cause significant problems for very sensitive work. One of the most important glovebox technologies is thus its sealing technology. Vigor has the world's best sealing system -- read about our patented seals.

Even with excellent seals, complete exclusion of oxygen and moisture can't be avoided. For instance, small molecules can diffuse through the gloves, or hitch a ride on items brought in via the antechambers. Also, there are always a few minor impurities in the working gas that is fed into the glovebox. Thus, an efficient purification system will remove those impurities and keep your research clean and isolated. Purifiers are Vigor's mainstay -- we have the best purifiers on the market with oxygen and moisture capacities 2-3 times greater than other companies.

How do I assess the quality of a glovebox?

1. Leakage rate:  The leakage rate of a glovebox is determined by how much oxygen and moisture get into your system; the leakage rate therefore directly correlates to how frequently the regeneration must run, and the lifetime of the purification materials. The leakage rate of a standard length Vigor SciLab glovebox is less than 0.001% vol/h. Most other companies quote their leakage rates to be around 0.05% vol/h.

2. Oxygen and moisture level: The concentrations of oxygen and moisture are usually maintained below 1 ppm in gloveboxes.

3. Frequency of regeneration: The glovebox need regeneration gas to regenerate purifier materials, and the entire glovebox system must be stopped for one day. If regeneration must occur frequently, it will drastically lower your work efficiency. Vigor purifiers are designed to be regenerated about every 1-2 years. Purifiers from other manufacturers typically require regeneration every 2-3 months.

4. Malfunctions: Major problems can occasionally occur on gloveboxes at the oxygen and moisture analyzers, valves, and blower. This is why Vigor offers you a 3 year warranty -- if anything does happen, we are at your side to fix it.

5. Look: Even though aesthetic reasons rarely turn a scientific buyer away, Vigor's all-welded stainless steel design with LED front panel will make any lab space shine!