Background

The possitive effects that low temperatures can have in many materials were already known long time ago.

It is said that Swiss watchmakers used to subject delicate components of their creations to the low winter temperatures of the Alps, being this one of the keys of their high quality.

The liquefaction of gases from air was achieved for the first time in the late nineteenth century, thus giving access to temperatures never reached on Earth before. This opened the door to a new science called cryogenics. During the early twentieth century some experiments (basically consisting in directly submerging a material in a liquified gas) were conducted for trying to know how the materials were affected by deep cryogenic temperatures. These rudimentary tests (sometimes the specimens were damaged by thermal shock) gave some hints about certain changes produced in the materials by cold.

FIRST practical applications

It seems that the first practical applications date back to the 30s of last century, but after the end of World War II, the interest in this technology significantly declined. Anyway, it remained in the aerospace industry due to the need of better anticipating the behaviour of the materials under the extreme temperatures of outer space. It was not before the 60s and 70s when cryogenic treatments quite similar to those used today started being used in industry.

The affordability of liquid nitrogen and the development of better control systems have been two key aspects for the gradual development and implementation of cryogenic treatments, especially in North America. In recent years, this technology has spread worldwide although, in contrast, it is still barely known and used in Europe.

Multistage cryogenic treatments

The multistage cryogenic treatments are the another step in the evolution of this technology. From an industrial point of view, these proceses represent a clear improvement over conventional cryogenic treatment strategies, providing better results with a considerable reduction in process times.