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Cryogenics is that branch of physics and engineering that involves the study of very low temperatures, how to produce these conditions, and the behavior of materials at those temperatures. Cryogenic freezing is an upcoming food processing technology that is fast gaining popularity because of the lower setup costs and improved food quality when compared to mechanical freezing. Cryogenic freezing involves freezing the outer layers of the food beyond its actual freezing point, while the inner part of the product remains warm. The product's final temperature is not its temperature as it exits the cryogenic tunnel. Only after up to 15 minutes later is its final temperature known, after full equilibration or equalization.

The field of cryogenics received a fillip when, during World War II, scientists found that metals frozen to low temperatures became more resistant to wear. Applying this phenomenon of cryogenic hardening, the commercial cryogenic processing industry was spawned in 1966 by Ed Busch. Busch founded a company in Detroit called CryoTech in 1966 and drew heavily from his background in the heat treating industry. Before merging with 300 Below to create the largest and oldest commercial cryogenics company, CryoTech ushered in a true technological innovation .They established the possibility of increasing the life of metal tools to anywhere between 200%-400% of the original life expectancy using cryogenic tempering instead of heat treating. Applications rapidly proliferated. In the late 1990's, cryogenics was used for the treatment of other parts (that did more than just increase the life of a product) such as amplifier valves (improved sound quality), baseball bats (greater sweet spot), golf clubs (greater sweet spot), racing engines (greater performance under stress), firearms (less warping after continuous shooting), knives, razor blades, brake rotors and even pantyhose.

CryoTech's theory was based on how heat-treating metal works (the temperatures are lowered to room temperature from a high degree causing certain strength increases in the molecular structure to occur) and hinged on the premise that continuing the descent would allow for further increase in strength. Using liquid nitrogen, CryoTech formulated the first early version of the cryogenic processor. Unfortunately for the newly-born industry, the results were often unpredictable, as components underwent thermal shock when cooled too fast. Some components in early tests even shattered at ultra-low temperatures. The rise of applied research, which coupled microprocessor based industrial controls to the cryogenic processor in order to create more stable results, revolutionized the field.

Cryogens, like liquid nitrogen, are nowadays used for specialty chilling and freezing applications. Some chemical reactions, like those used to produce the active ingredients for the popular statin drugs, must occur at low temperatures of approximately -100 °C. Special cryogenic chemical reactors are used to remove reaction heat and provide a low temperature environment. The freezing of foods and biotechnology products, like vaccines, requires nitrogen in blast freezing or immersion freezing systems have added to the shelf life and nutrient value. Certain soft or elastic materials become hard and brittle at very low temperatures, which makes cryogenic milling (grinding) a necessity for some materials that cannot easily be milled at higher temperatures.
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