Engine cryogenic hardening treatments

Explore Cryogenic engine treatments"

When building a new engine you really want it to be as strong as possible. Cryogenic treatments were discovered by accident. It was noticed that metal exposed to the cold temperatures of space and high temperatures of re-entry were substantially stronger.

The effect of slow cooling and slow heating up was even better than the sudden temperature changes and the process of cryogenic engine treatments arrived.

An engine is stripped and sprayed with liquid nitrogen in a controlled manner dropping its temperature to near absolute zero for a long period. Then the temperature is slowly raised to 150°C and held for around 12 hours. This process can be repeated a few times for better results. Cryogenic engine treatments result in a much harder and smoother finish to the metal with obvious benefits to the car tuner.

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Whole engines cannot be effectively treated in this way so they must be stripped down and the individual components treated.

The resulting metal is substantially harder so is capable of with standing much higher stress than a standard block. The molecular level smoothing also reduces friction which is another source of power loss and internal engine stress.

There are a growing number of companies offering a full cryogenic service for engine builders. The initial costs are relatively high and this renders cryogenic treatments the exclusive preserve of the motorsport team or serious tuner.

Eventually the cost will come down and this will be a viable option for all car tuning enthusiasts. Rarely do we see a tuning process that doesn't introduce negative points. All power gains tend to come with a hidden price but cryogenics seems to have only positives and upsides. Expect a net power gain of around 3% and much better reliability from a cryogenically treated engine.

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3 Responses to “Cryogenic engine treatments”

  1. Mark says:

    Another procedure I can learn to do! 😀
    I’m restoring a Chevy 454-SS with an L-19 bigblock. The drivetrain will be recieving every blueprinting option in the book. My horsepower goal is to get and hold a steady 120mph with the stock 3.73:1 final drive, & a factory stock appearance. With a balanced build, blueprint machining, & everything port-matched from intake to exhaust, and this treatment to the block, intake, & head castings these goals should be a cakewalk.
    Would this be of any benefit to exhaust manifolds or headers?

  2. andrew says:

    well when i was @lotus cars all manifold where left outside to weather in english climate!!b4 machining etc..sort of same??

  3. Brett says:


    No, because they probebly couldn’t be bothered to bring them in, typical British engineering.
    Just for the record I’m from the UK.

    Who in the UK currentlu offers this cryo service?