IIR Cryogenics 2023 conference: perspectives of cryogenic technologies for 2030

Overview of future technological advances in cryogenics: liquid hydrogen electric aircrafts, cryofuels, hydrogen chemical energy conversion, fuel cells for energy storage, cryogenic rocket engine, quantum and nanotechnology applications. 

At the very successful Cryogenics 2023 conference held in Dresden, Germany on April 25-28, 2023, Ziad Melhem presented an overview of the future advances in cryogenics technology and applications within 2030. (1) 


Cryogenics, the science and technology of extremely low temperatures, has numerous applications in space science, electronics, transport, manufacturing industry, biological science, agriculture, and in science and engineering of advanced technologies including scientific and medical purposes, especially in cryobiology and cryosurgery and in the cooling of low-temperature electronics.  

The cryogenic industrial equipment market is expected to show tremendous growth in the coming decade despite the slowdown in the last three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The value of the cryogenic equipment market was 22 billion USD in 2022 and is expected to almost double to reach 43 billion USD by 2030.  


New developments in cryogenic technology, low temperature, and cryogenic heat transfer are enabling diverse new applications and innovations in aerospace, sensors, high energy physics, quantum, and nanotechnology applications, cryo-electronics, and superconducting applications. All presently available superconducting materials must be cooled to cryogenic temperatures to operate. In recent years, environmental aspects have taken an important place in the design and development of low-temperature refrigeration systems.


Z. Melhem emphasises several emerging advances in cryogenic engineering, either under development or expected over the current decade


  • Electrification and electric industry: fully electric aircraft that use cryogenic liquid hydrogen as an energy storage method. Many aircraft suppliers are developing next-generation planes using clean energy; Airbus, Boeing, NASA, and many others are working on different projects to create an aircraft that works on a cryogenic hydrogen fuel cell system. Hydrogen-based aircraft can, crucially, deliver a higher range. These aircraft’s systems will contain compressed hydrogen to start the process of Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. 
  • Cryo-fuels for transport: one of the most common cryo-fuels used in transport is liquid natural gas (LNG). LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to a boiling temperature of -162°C (113 K), at which point it becomes a liquid. LNG is used as a fuel in heavy-duty large vehicles like trucks, buses, and ships, as it has a higher energy density than compressed natural gas (CNG), which means that it can provide more energy per unit of volume. 
  • Another cryo-fuel that is gaining popularity in the transport sector is liquid hydrogen (LH2). LH2 is hydrogen that has been cooled to a temperature of -253°C (20 K), at which point it becomes a liquid. LH2 is used as a fuel in fuel cell vehicles, which convert hydrogen into electricity to power an electric motor. The only emission from this process is water vapor. Cryo-fuels offer several advantages over traditional fuels, including lower emissions and greater efficiency. However, they also require specialized storage and handling equipment, which can increase the cost of using these fuels. Additionally, the production of cryo-fuels can require significant energy inputs, which can impact their overall sustainability. 
  • Hydrogen Chemical Energy: hydrogen’s chemical energy is converted into electrical energy through a series of fuel cells. Hydrogen acts as a chemical energy carrier, rather like oil or gas, which can be piped or transported to where it is needed. It stores three times as much energy per unit of mass as conventional petrol, and when it “burns” in the air – releasing that stored energy – it simply combines with oxygen to produce water again. The low-temperature requirements of hydrogen systems also provide the opportunity to utilise superconducting power transmission. The fuel cell converts the chemical energy from hydrogen and ambient oxygen to generate power for an electric motor. This electric motor later provides rotational energy. 
  • Fuel Cell for storage: when used as an energy storage device, the fuel cell is combined with a fuel generation device, commonly an electrolyser, to create a regenerative fuel cell system, which can convert electrical energy to a storable fuel and then use this fuel in a fuel cell reaction to provide electricity. Hydrogen is kept in a cryogenic tank for greater autonomy. The liquid hydrogen kept under pressure in these tanks can be used for cooling and heating. Cryogenic storage of hydrogen is beneficial and has a lot of potential value to offer. It is not only economical at large production rates; the storage also lasts longer. 
  • Cryogenic Rocket Engine: the development of today’s space technology would have been impossible without cryogenics. Rocket engines working as boosters are comprised of a cryogenic fuel and oxidizer. The H2-O2 combination allows for specific impulses superior to the other pairs of propellants and is necessary for some specific applications such as in vehicles with a single step to orbit. A cryogenic rocket engine is more beneficial, and it delivers more thrust for every kg of propellant. It goes without saying that it is also far more suitable for solid and liquid engines. 
  • Cryogenics for quantum applications: recent advancements in cryogenics and low-temperature techniques enable a new class of quantum and nanotechnology applications. Such applications will be dependent on advanced modular cryogenic platforms that can probe and manipulate matter at the nanoscale under a magnetic field and/or at low temperatures and are simpler to use and manage. The new cryogenic environments will be used to assemble and analyse functional, organic, or inorganic, nano‐ and microstructures, and to probe their structures, properties, and dynamics, with potential applications in quantum technologies like quantum information processing, sensing and communications, nano-based technologies, and nano-electronics. 

Download the Proceedings of Cyogenics 2023   Download the papers*



(1) Melhem Z.; Future prospects of cryogenics applications in the second decade of the 21st century. https://iifiir.org/en/fridoc/future-prospects-of-cryogenics-applications-in-the-second-decade-of-147078 

* Free of charge for  standard private members and beneficiaries of corporate membership.