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Name: Jegadeesh
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Country: India
Date: N/A 

What is the effect of liquid nitrogen with hardened mild steel? Are there any adverse effect that will lead to failure of that material in future? Why are some musical instruments treated this way?

Hi Jagadeesh,

You refer in your question to "hardened mild steel". In fact, mild steel cannot be hardened. It has insufficient carbon content to allow hardening. So, in short, there is no such thing as hardened mild steel.

But to try to answer your basic question, simply immersing any type of steel (whether mild steel, or heat-treated and hardened carbon steel) in liquid nitrogen has no lasting effect once the steel has warmed up to room temperature.

Mild steel becomes somewhat more brittle at the temperature of liquid nitrogen (or any of the common liquefied gases), but that is only a cold temperature effect, and its normal toughness returns when the steel returns to normal temperature.

There are some rather exotic steel alloys that need ultra-rapid cooling from red heat, to achieve specific properties, and immersing the red hot alloy in liquid nitrogen (rather than the usual quenching in water) achieves a faster cooling rate. But this is simply a means of achieving faster cooling, not any result of liquid nitrogen itself.

As for "treating" musical instruments with liquid nitrogen, I am unable to find any references to this, nor to what might be achieved by doing so.


Bob Wilson

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