New Ground breaking £65 million Digital Aviation Research Centre opens in Cranfield

Outside the newly built DARTeC building in Cranfield with Frenger's® Active Chilled Beams and Radiant Heating Panels

Frenger® have supplied the Digital Aviation and Research Technology Centre (DARTeC) to create a new global leader in digital aviation research. Frenger® supplied their Eco Active Chilled Beams along with their Modula and Frengerwarm Radiant Heating Panels.

The £65 million facility, located at Cranfield's airport, will enable researchers at the new purpose-built facility to work with industry partners to advance the application of digital technologies in the air transport sector. The centre, opened July 2021, will form an integral part of Cranfield's global research airport to bring together key sector leads from the aviation industry including airspace management, airport, airline, and aircraft.

Bringing together these sector leads provides a collaborative research environment to create, experiment and challenge the digital status quo through accelerating the integration of more advanced digital systems. Etihad and Boeing are two examples of the key global partnerships being formed to achieve these targets.

A room inside the DARTeC building installed with Frenger's® Radiant Heating Panels and Active Chilled Beams

The facility consists of a central building containing a suite of digital aviation research laboratories with a partially covered 'hangar laboratory', a 737-400 aircraft, an intelligent movement area, a remote air traffic control centre with conventional and advanced holographic radar systems capable of monitoring and controlling the airspace around Cranfield's airport.

The hangar laboratory is located adjacent to the central building and will be connected through an airport-style air-bridge. The laboratory will also house the 737-400 aircraft, also including aircraft sensing equipment, visual and thermal load distribution for digital maintenance. Key MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) studies will also be undertaken within the hangar laboratory.

In addition, the laboratory will house airport ground handling vehicles where assistive digital technologies will be researched and integrated to improve ground operation efficiency and safety. The facility, constructed with over 300 tonnes of structural steel and 1,800 square metres of standing seam roofing over the two buildings, will enable research into the development of fully autonomous ground handling vehicles with the application of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) for remote inspection concepts.

The lobby inside the DARTeC building supplied with Frenger's® Active Chilled Beams and Radiant Heating Panels

DARTeC aims to address some of the main research challenges facing the aviation industry including:

  • The integration of drones into civilian airspace;
  • Creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures;
  • Increasing the availability and reliability of aircraft utilising self-sensing/aware and self-healing/repair technologies;
  • Increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances;
Another view of the outside of the DARTeC Building with Frenger's® Active Chilled Beams and Radiant Heating Panels inside

To help the centre create the development and research environment it wants, DARTeC have a number of game-changing technologies such as the first operational digital air traffic control tower in the UK and next-generation radar technologies on the University's licenced airport.

Frenger® have also helped in this area, delivering both their Active Chilled Beams and Radiant Heating Panels to provide the highest performance in terms of Thermal Comfort for the occupants of the facility, and energy efficiency for maintaining sustainable running costs for the building owners.

Eco Active Chilled Beams

A render of Frenger's® Eco Active Chilled Beam

The Eco™ beam contains a number of patented performance enhancing features and as can be expected from the Frenger® brand, the Eco™ beam is also designed to be easily tailored to suit the unique parameters of individual project sites, for the optimum product / system efficiencies. This is partly achieved by the "burst nozzle" arrangement that helps optimise heat exchange performance and also helps reduces noise.

Given the size and amount of burst nozzles being appropriately quantified for each project, this provides consistent jet velocities, equal distribution of the air discharge and continuous induction through the entire length of the heat exchanger (battery).

There are no dead spots due to plugging back nozzles from a standard pitch or having to adjust the pressure in the system to suit the amount of open standard nozzle sizes as associated with many competitors' active beams as dead spots and / or reduced jet velocities decrease their cooling capacities / efficiencies.

Heat exchanger batteries are also fitted with extruded aluminium profiles to not only enhance performance but also provide a continuous clip on facility for the underplates. This arrangement keeps the underplates true and flat for the entire length of the Chilled Beams even for Beams up to 3.6m in length.

Modula Radiant Heating Panels

A render of Frenger's® Modula Radiant Heating Panel

Frenger's® Modula range of Radiant Heating Panels provide comfortable, affordable, energy efficient heating throughout a number of areas within a building environment.

Each panel is constructed from smooth-faced Zintec steel, extruded aluminium heat exchanger pipe seats and 15mm OD copper coils that are produced in-house on Frenger's® state-of-the-art full CNC Serpentine Bend Machine from thousand-meter drums of copper to make the heating coils without any joints whatsoever and to safe guard against risks of leakage. Frenger® can provide tube centres as close pitch as 70mm. Panels are insulated with high density (45 kg/m3) class 'O' foil 'wrapped' mineral wool insulation.

The technology employed in the construction of all Frenger's® radiant heating panels result in very high heating capacity, all of which are designed, developed, and tested in Frenger's® in house Climatic Test Laboratories and are also Independently Tested and Certified to EN13047.

Frengerwarm Radiant Heating Panels

A render of Frenger's® Frengerwarm Radiant Heating Panel

Frengerwarm is a range of custom made, smooth faced aluminium or steel panels manufactured to any length to suit the application. Panels can be wall mounted, free-hanging, surface mounted or recessed into a suspended ceiling system. Frengerwarm is generally for more Bespoke applications as it can be manufactured at virtually any size and shape. Copper pipes are fixed rigidly to the rear of the aluminium panels and heat transfer is enhanced by extruded aluminium pipes seats. Panels are backed with 50mm thick foil-backed class '0' insulation, and are finished polyester powdercoat white RAL9010 as standard.

Frengerwarm has been specifically developed for use in schools, sports halls, offices and healthcare environments, where a smooth faced panel with high heating capacity is the preferred solution. Frengerwarm is tested in accordance with the new harmonised European Standard EN 14037.

You can learn more about the products Frenger® has to offer by visiting our products page. Alternatively, you can contact our Head Office on 61 2 9006 1147 or