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Applications of Cryogenics

written by: Ricky • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 1/24/2009

We start to feel discomfortable when mercury dips beyond a certain level, but what is the practical use of attaining temperatures low enough even to freeze the very mercury we use to measure normal temperatures. Find out about the uses and applications of cryogenics in this article

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    We learnt earlier that cryogenics deals with the generation of extremely low temperatures and the phenomenon associated with these temperatures. Now the question arises as to why should we bother about producing such low temperatures in the first place? Obviously there have to be certain uses of the process otherwise the scientists would not do it just for the sake of producing low temperatures. So in this article we will study a few uses and applications of cryogenics.

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    Applications and Uses

    I cannot say with certainty about the future but surely as of now, cryogenics does not seem to have much use in your domestic refrigerator. Obviously you wouldn’t want to store you meat or ice-cream and minus hundred degrees after which you may spend a full day to reheat it. Anyways jokes apart we will get down to studying some serious applications of this science in the industrial sector.

    Engineering – there are literally endless uses of this science in the field of engineering and it may not be possible to list of them here. Just to give you a simple example suppose you need to shrink fit two parts, then one of the parts can be cooled to say a temperature of around -80 degrees Celsius and upon attaining room temperature the parts fit together and act as a single piece. This is in contrast to using heat for the purpose which prevents several problems such as softening of the hard material and so forth. Another application could be the treatment of engine parts of an automobile such as the piston rings which would give them a very long life.

    Cryobiology – this is the use of low temperatures in biology and studying their effect on living forms and living cells and tissues. This also has a wide variety of applications and could include things such as freezing the eggs or sperms which can be used for later reproduction purposes and also for selective breeding. Another use which might seem far stretched as of now but might be a certainty in the future is the use of cryogenics for space travel. For example the universe is literally huge and it takes more than the lifespan of a human being to cross even a small portion of this universe. Scientists are carrying out studies whether low temperatures can be used to literally freeze human beings before sending them to space where they would just “break out" after centuries of travel just as young as they were at the beginning of the journey.

    Power Transmission – currently modern cities are giant consumers of electricity which needs to be transported across large distances through overhead cables which are very difficult to place in dense cities. Yet underground cables have heating problems which can be solved to a great extent with the use of cryogenic coolants.

    The list of applications and uses of cryogenics give above is certainly not an exhaustive list but only a tip of the iceberg. Still this should give a fair idea to the reader about the usefulness of the cool science in various industrial and commercial applications.