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2018 Man of the Year: Dr. Robert P. Scaringe, Mainstream Engineering Corp.
Dr. Robert P. Scaringe, President and Founder of Mainstream Engineering Corporation has been named the 2018 HVAC Insider Man of the Year. Dr. Scaringe earned Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York and has worked in the Heat Pump group, Thermal Division of General Electric’s R&D Center as well as being a thermal science professor of Mechanical Engineering at several universities. He founded Mainstream in 1986 with the goal of developing advanced heat transfer and thermal control products. “The idea was to perform leading-edge R&D as done at leading technological universities, but on a faster timetable and with an eye on new products. I didn’t want an organization whose research simply generated publications in technical journals,” stated Dr. Scaringe.
Over the past 33 years, Mainstream’s advanced R&D successfully diversified into essentially every engineering discipline except civil engineering, with hundreds of patents protecting their technology while employing the best engineers from all the top engineering schools around the country.
Mainstream does not import products from the Far East, nor does Mainstream produce a lot of copycat products. The company develops unique products using their technological advantages, substantiating their slogan: “Solutions through Advanced Technology.” People who have used a QwikLug, QwikCheck, or QwikSwap agree these products not only make the HVAC technician’s life easier, they also save the homeowner money and inconvenience.
In addition to their QwikProducts line of timesaving HVAC/R products, Mainstream has an extensive line of military products including environmental control units, power electronic devices (inverters, smart electrical grids, motors, and generators) and refrigeration units for the U.S. military in addition to a line of marine products (Mainstream Marine).
Some of Mainstream’s outstanding accomplishments include the following:
- First vapor-compression refrigeration compressor on the International Space Station.
- First magnetic-bearing, centrifugal compressor-based chiller.
- Combined ram-air-powered 60-kWelectric generator and 16-ton cooling unit for the U.S. Navy’s EA-18 Next-Generation Jamming Pod.
- Rugged high-efficiency enhanced environmental control units and modular refrigeration units for U.S. military applications.
- Heat-pump-augmented thermal control system demonstrator for NASA’s future Lunar Outpost.
- Compact thermal control systems used for cooling high-power electronics and high-energy lasers.
- Patented-process to produce liquid fuels from waste products.
- Smallest and lightest diesel generators in the world.
- Newest battery and fuel cell technologies.
- Manufacture of advanced compact compressors for extreme environments.
All of Mainstream’s products are proudly made in the USA on their extensive Rockledge, Florida campus.
Dr. Scaringe has served in leadership roles in the Kennedy Space Center Support Committee and engineering advisory boards of several universities. Mainstream has received many awards for their work, including Department of Energy’s SBIR/STTR Small Business of the Year award, the State of Florida Governor’s New Product Award, Regional Winner of the SBA Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award, SBA’s Administrator’s Award for Excellence, multiple Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative Awards, the U.S. SBA’s Award for Excellence, NASA’s Technical Commercialization Award, The 50 Florida Companies to Watch Award, Florida Excellence Award for Excellence in Commerce, and two SBA Tibbetts Awards for commercialization.
Mainstream currently has more than 83 prime contracts for advanced R&D from various agencies of the U.S. government, including both the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.
Mainstream has a long tradition of actively supporting the local community. For example, Mainstream personnel serve in the local chapters of professional organizations including ASME, SAE, AIChE and ASHRAE. Mainstream’s scientists and engineers also support the local universities (Florida Institute of Technology and University of Florida) both as adjunct professors and with joint research efforts. Mainstream employees participate in events with Palm Beach Air Conditioning Contractors Association, Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association, and South Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association and are members of the HVAC Advisory Board at Eastern Florida State College. Mainstream also donates training facilities for use by the Brevard HVAC Contractor Association and workspace for Students in First Robotics Teams.
Mainstream offers free HVAC/R technician training in areas such as preventative maintenance, indoor air quality, safe handling of flammable refrigerants and R-410A certification. They also host a free, easy-to-use online platform for meeting the EPA-required refrigeration recordkeeping requirements related to the installation of new air conditioning units.
Starting in 1986 with two R&D contracts from the U.S. Air Force related to advanced heat pumps for spacecraft thermal control, the company now manufactures equipment and performs R&D for most agencies of the U.S. government as well as for government prime contractors. For example, the current modular refrigeration units and the improved environmental control units used by the Department of Defense are Mainstream QwikProducts™. Even the refrigeration compressor on the International Space Station that cools the refrigerated centrifuge is a Mainstream product. Mainstream successfully converts its highly advanced thermal control technology into unique, patented, high-quality and cost-effective commercial QwikProducts™ for the HVAC/R industry.
Today’s HVAC market is flooded with companies that don’t actually make anything. They simply buy products from foreign countries and re-label them for sale here in the states. Mainstream Engineering is different. Mainstream is an award-winning solution-oriented, research, development and manufacturing business with a 12-acre, 8-building campus in Rockledge, Florida, where all QwikProducts™ are made.
The latest innovation developed by Mainstream is the QwikSwap™ V3 board, a simple alternative for replacing variable airflow, electronically commutated motors (ECMs). The QwikSwap™ V3 enables replacing variable airflow ECM 2.0, 2.3, 2.5 or 3.0 motors with a permanent split-capacitor (PSC) motor while still providing the variable blower airflow capability. This is significant because when a variable air flow ECM fails, the technician has to order an exact replacement from the original equipment manufacturer of the air conditioner or heat pump (and not the manufacturer of the motor). Then the technicians have to wait for the replacement to arrive at their supply house.
Another example of using military technology to make a better HVAC/R product is Qwik System Flush. When the Air Force could no longer use R-11 and other refrigerants to flush the oxygen breathing systems on fighter aircraft, they hired Mainstream to develop an improved, environmentally safe flushing agent, and Qwik System Flush was born. Similarly, when NASA needed a means to improve the air quality of future space habitats, PuraClean filter spray was born. These are just a few examples where Mainstream’s advanced R&D has improved their QwikProducts and allowed HVAC/R technicians to get the job done efficiently and correctly.
Some of Mainstream’s hardware is shown in the following figures. Ttheir 14-ton refrigeration compressor, is a twin helical screw compressor that weighs only 42 pounds, next to a much larger commercial off-the-shelf scroll compressor of the same capacity that weighs 390 pounds.
Mainstream’s 65-ton microchannel condensers are used for cooling high-power electronics such as laser weapons systems. The condenser is being prepared for oven brazing in Mainstream’s controlled atmosphere brazing center.
For more details on all the Mainstream QwikProducts™ and to see all the free training available, visit www.Qwik.com.
To sign up for the free EPA-mandated refrigerant recordkeeping, send an email request to [email protected] For more details on the advanced R&D being done by Mainstream, visit www.Mainstream-Engr.com.