300 Below, Inc. was featured in the May 1995 issue of National Kart News.
Cryogenics: The newest secret for performance and durability?
For those who don’t know what Cryogenics means, just think “cold”. The word “Cryogenics” is derived from two Greek words, (you already knew this sounded Greek, right) “kryos”, which means cold or freezing, and “genes”, meaning born or produced. “Deep” cryogenics is anything below -300 degrees Fahrenheit (like I said, think cold). The process has created many new applications in ultra-cold temperature physics. It is found that cryogenic treatment to metal tools and machine parts can increase their life by some 200%-400%. Just recently this process has been applied to engine parts and components.
Cryogenics has been around for 30 years, but it wasn’t until the advent of computers and computer regulated controls, that the process became viable. Five years ago, Pete Paulin, president of 300 Below, refined the process developed by Ed Busch, a long-time heat treater from Michigan. Paulin mated a 386 based computer to a processor and wrote a computer program to precisely control the process.
Although most might think this is an entirely different process than heat treating, it’s not. In heat treating, the benefit to the part being treated, comes during the cooling stage. Cryogenics, is just an extension of this process.
In fact, heat treating is actually a misnomer. It should be called cold treating. Cryogenic treating works only on materials that have already been heat treated.
If you’ve been around motorsports for any length of time, you know this idea isn’t new. We all know someone who has tried to cover a part with dry ice, or put it in his wife’s freezer or oven in an attempt to find an edge. Liquid nitrogen has even been tried by some. Dropping a part into a vat of liquid nitrogen is like dropping an ice cube into a cup of hot water, it cracks front the stress points inside the cube.
How does the process work? The part or parts are placed into a processor and then slowly cooled to -317°F. It is held at that temperature for 20-60 hours depending on the part and material. It is then slowly raised to