Evaluation of Hypalon® and polyurethane for use in plutonium glovebox environments
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Nuclear gloveboxes provide a physical barrier between workers and harmful materials. Breaches in gloveboxes may result in lab contamination or even internal uptakes of toxic materials. Such incidents result in both man hours wasted and hazardous working conditions. Therefore, a premium must be set on limiting glovebox breaches. Most glovebox breaches results from tears and punctures in the gloves. In an attempt to decrease these failures, an examination of standard Hypalon gloves against a combination glove made of Hypalon and polyurethane was conducted. Initial comparisons involved mechanical testing utilizing both tensile testing and puncture testing. Additionally, thermal aging techniques were employed to simulate aging characteristics of the polymers. Also, in order to replicate glovebox environments radiation damage studies were carried out involving both a Plutonium-Beryllium neutron source and a ²⁴⁴Cm alpha source. After the comparison of standard Hypalon gloves against combination gloves made of Hypalon and polyurethane had been conducted, it was evident that the combination glove outperformed the pure Hypalon in every study except the radiation studies. This research creates a safer working environment by explaining material properties of current gloves and furthering knowledge in the field of nuclear materials. In particular, this research will help line managers at Los Alamos choose the proper glove for use in the glovebox environment, as well as implement a much needed glove changing policy.