Month: July 2020

Energy Flows in US Manufacturing Sector

From the report “Advancing the Landscape of Clean Energy Innovation” published February 2019 by Breakthrough Energy, IHS Markit, and Energy Futures Initiative comes the below Sankey diagram showing energy flows in the United States manufacturing sector.


Figure based on data from U.S. Department of Energy, 2010 Manufacturing Energy and Carbon Footprint. Flows are in Trillion BTUs (TBtu, Trillion British thermal units). Energy used in manufacturing is steam (heat), electricity and fuels. Energy use is broken down into 5 types of processes in the manufacturing sector. “Applied Energy” is shown in green (58%), and use losses in light grey (42%).

EU Food Flows 2011

This comprehensive and well-structured Sankey diagram on food production, waste and consumption is featured in an article ‘Quantification of food waste per product group along the food supply chain in the European Union: a mass flow analysis by Carla Caldeira et al. (published as open access article under CC BY license in: Resources Conservation and Recycling · June 2019). The paper “presents a high-level top-down approach to food waste accounting in the European Union.”

Flows are in megatonnes (Mt) wet mass for the year 2011. The diagram shows “feed and food flows, excluding soft drinks, mineral waters and some non-perishable foodstuffs (salt, coffee, etc.)”.

The figure is split in two parts. On the left we see the stages production, processing and distribution, with gaps between the streams to better be able to distinguish them. The food flows reaching the consumption stage (365 Mt) are bundled and shown in a much more compact diagram inset, but still on the same scale, it appears.
Here we can differentiate the amount going to food service (restaurants etc.) and consumption in private households. We also learn that approximately 60 Mt of what is being purchased for consumption still ends up as food waste.
In the other hand, a large portion of rejects and waste in the production stages is fed back into the system (chartreuse colored flow at the bottom) and being used as animal feed. Much more detail there to discover…

Check out this related Sankey diagram on Material Flows in the U.S. Food System

Basque Country Circular Economy 2030

A post on the ‘Low Carbon Future’ blog by IDOM caught my attention as it featured the below Sankey diagram. The post is a summary of an event held back in 2019 on the elaboration of a Circular Economy Strategy for the Basque Country” (“Foro de participación para la elaboración de la Estrategia de Economía Circular del País Vasco 2030”).

The diagram shows mass flows in mega tonnes (Mt) for the year 2016 within the autonomous community in the North of Spain. While the arrows are unicolored, stacked bars on the streams reveal their composition with contributions from metallic minerals, non-metallic minerals, fossil fuels, biomass and others.

Somehow I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I had seen something similar before. And indeed a similar Sankey diagram for global flows is featured in this post from 2015 and – even more so – one for EU material flows in this followup post from 2018. They seem to have served as a template for the creation of a regional Basque version.