Glovebox technology lifts off

Landy spoke to some 200 attendees at the American Glovebox Society's 1999 conference, exposition & training seminar, held here in July. Although traditional glovebox members in the nuclear and pharmaceutical industries were at the conference, an expanded membership is also evident, given the presence of NASA, the Army, and Department of Energy (DOE).

Glovebox use is expanding to other disciplines, such as space. Photo courtesy of NASA.
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NASA, for example, is expanding glovebox use to solve containment issues faced on the shuttle, space station and with sample handling. The U.S. Army attends the conference to tap into the society's containment expertise. The Department of Energy also finds the conference a forum pertaining to cleanup at DOE sites. And, although the electronics industry does not have the same containment issues, the increased movement to glovebox and minienvironments from large cleanroom facilities motivated industry representatives to attend.

According to Sam Ortega, NASA systems test engineer, “Our first-generation glovebox facility was built as an agreement between NASA and the European Space Agency. In turn, a second-generation facility flew five times on the space shuttle in various configurations and withstood 20 months aboard Mir, achieving 500 hours of operation without failures. Now, we're into our third generation, which will be our space station version – approximately eight times the work area of previous generations.”

“We're planning on developing a space forum within the AGS where our scientists can discuss possibilities and concepts and introduce them to vendors. It gives us an opportunity to present papers and receive feedback from people in other fields. To date, we've gained some resources we didn't have before .

“And our contributions have been well received. One NASA experiment, conducted in a glovebox, was related to studying the suspension of solids in a fluid leading to the creation of Tylenol suspension droplets for children. Another company recently completed phase-three studies on an antigen for the flu. By doing the science of it in a glovebox, they were able to map the flu strain, come up with a way to alter it, and [weaken] it to the extent that a 10-day flu virus has the impact of a two-day common cold.”

AGS can be reached at 800-530-1022.

Carolyn Mathas


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