ReAgent Builds Nitrogen Glovebox

Lucy Bell-Young

by Lucy Bell-Young

7th February 2018

Here at ReAgent, we are always developing new methods that will help us to expand our services. In keeping with this business goal, we are excited that our expert team have completed building our very own Nitrogen Glovebox with built-in airlock.

What is the Nitrogen Glovebox?

The Glovebox is designed to be used in procedures where a chemical product would be damaged if exposed to air. It is comprised of two chambers where inert gases, namely nitrogen, are used to expel air within the box.

This allows us to handle air-sensitive, or even poisonous chemicals. The manufacture of this Glovebox has given ReAgent an insight into the possibility of handling products that require this protection, and we are currently using the Glovebox to pack Sicapent® for a client.

An infographic showing the way a nitrogen glovebox works

How Does the Glovebox Work?

The Glovebox is made of two chambers: a larger chamber for working in, and a smaller chamber that acts as an airlock. Before work begins, the front panel of the larger chamber is removed so that the working environment can be set up. This includes an operator setting up tools, scales, empty containers, and so on.

Once set-up is complete, the front panel is re-secured and made airtight against a seal. Once airtight, the larger chamber is filled with nitrogen via an inlet valve. This pushes any air out of the box via an outlet valve. The humidity is then monitored until it is less than 10%, and the nitrogen is slowed to allow a small flow through the larger chamber.

Because all of the air has been pushed out and replaced with nitrogen, it creates a safe environment to handle air-sensitive chemicals. At this stage, the operator is able to use the gloves attached to the front to carry out the filling procedure.

Once the filling procedure is complete, the smaller chamber is similarly filled with nitrogen and monitored until its humidity is less than 10%. The door between the two chambers can then be opened, and the product is moved into the smaller chamber. This process means that the nitrogen and humidity levels in the larger chamber will stay the same, and the product can be safely moved.

The door between the two chambers is closed again, and the filled bottles can now safely be taken to packaging and labelling. The opposite procedure is then followed, where new jars and product are placed in the smaller before being moved to the larger chamber. The filling procedure can commence again, all while successfully keeping nitrogen and humidity at the correct levels.

A picture of the nitrogen glovebox built at ReAgent Ltd

ReAgent’s Projects & Maintenance Engineer, Phil Baillie, helped to design and build our factory’s very own Nitrogen Glovebox. Here is a look at the final product, which we now use to handle phosphorus pentoxide.

How Do You Make a Glovebox?

Our Projects & Maintenance Engineer, Phil Baillie, built the Glovebox over a course of three days.

The Glovebox is made by cutting and sticking sheets of Perspex together. Perspex is made from polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), which is a shatterproof thermoplastic. This material means that the Glovebox is a sturdy and resistant design.

What Does This Mean for ReAgent?

With our new Nitrogen Glovebox, we will be able to handle and package hundreds of air-sensitive chemicals in a safe, airtight environment. This will help to expand ReAgent’s reach in the chemical industry.

We are happy to currently be working with a client to handle Sicapent®. Also known as phosphorus pentoxide, Sicapent is a powerful desiccant used in a variety of applications. Most notably, it is suited for drying fast-flowing gases. Phosphorus pentoxide is sensitive to air, and so must be handled in conditions that are geared towards its chemical stability.

By utilising the Glovebox, ReAgent are able to pack and fill Sicapent® whilst ensuring maximum safety for the product. In the future, we are hoping to develop our Glovebox design so that we can eventually have the capacity to package thousands of similar air-sensitive chemicals.

A picture of the nitrogen glovebox being built

ReAgent’s Project & Maintenance Engineer, Phil Baillie, designed and built the nitrogen glovebox out of perspex. Here is a photo taken half-way through the building process.

Along with the Glovebox, we have a wide range of production facilities and equipment at our disposal. We also offer a variety of services, as well as being an ISO accredited company. When you work with ReAgent, we guarantee high quality products and first-class customer service. Simply get in touch to find out what we can offer you today.


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