Mainstream’s Microgravity Oil-Less Refrigeration Compressor on International Space Station

ROCKLEDGE, FL – August 22, 2005 – Mainstream Engineering Corporation’s oil-less refrigeration compressor was recently transported to the International Space Station (ISS) on NASA’s Space Shuttle Mission STS-114 to begin service in the ISS refrigerated centrifuge.

This unique compressor requires no oil for lubrication; instead, it uses self-lubricating materials and permanently greased bearings. Conventional refrigeration compressors have gravity-assisted oil lubricating systems that would not adequately lubricate in a microgravity environment. This compressor was developed for Lockheed Martin Space Operations and NASA to overcome the gravity-assisted lubrication of conventional refrigeration compressors.

Mainstream Engineering has been at the forefront of vapor compression refrigeration, cooling, and thermal control technology development since 1986. Mainstream developed the world’s first oil-less magnetic-bearing centrifugal refrigeration compressor in 1995. In addition to continuing research in high-power spacecraft thermal control applications, Mainstream is developing high-speed magnetic-bearing centrifugal air compressors for the production of medical-grade oxygen for use in forward-deployed military field hospitals. This advanced R&D is incorporated into Mainstream’s QwikProducts, which are used worldwide by air conditioning and refrigeration technicians to improve the performance or repair commercial and residential A/C and refrigeration units, automotive A/C units, and commercial building thermal control systems.

Mainstream worked with the U.S. Air Force to develop a new compact, environmentally safe, modular environmental control unit (MECU). This unit is a highly reliable, compact, lightweight tent air conditioner specifically designed to operate in the very sandy and hot desert environments of the Middle East. With the goal of continuing support of U.S. troops, Mainstream’s engineers have used their technological strengths to develop the world’s smallest and lightest 2 kW diesel generator for use by the U. S. Marine Corps. Since these generators must be hand-carried, Mainstream dramatically reduced the weight by 42%! This achievement is highly significant considering outdoor temperatures in the Middle East can climb to over 120°F.