The Energy Education References Wiki has a page on Sankey diagrams. It features many samples, snippets and links directed at teachers.

One image in particular caught my attention. This is described as “Energy Display System” created by CSIS in the 70s


(via Energy Education References Wiki)

You all know those national energy flow Sankey diagrams I show here regularly? Now imagine the same type of image as a series consecutive frames for several years. This would produce a kind of animated gif or movie showing changes over time.

The above must be an early 3D version of this. The diagrams are mounted on what seems to be acrylic glass…

I admire architects for their visionary ideas, for being able to transcend established limits, for pushing things beyond the common … at least when still in early phases of a project.

Victor Hugo Azevedo’s blog is called ‘La Ville Radieuse’ (The Radiant City) after a concept by Le Corbusier. It has all kinds of architectural stuff. By mere coincidence I discovered the following Sankey diagram he did in 2011 as class assignment on energy flows…

“This time we were asked to trace the energy flow that directly affect us. I traced the beginning of a common day during my summer in the city of Manaus Brazil. The following diagram shows how the larger infrastructure shape my routine.”

This looks at first sight like one of the classic ‘national energy flow’ Sankey diagrams with fuels (production) on the left, distribution and consumption on the right. But this is only partly true. Look at the right part where the energy flows stack and have a vertical time line.

“The next diagram is nothing more than a closer look into one of the ends of the diagram, which is my own routine on a four hour span (from 7AM to 10AM on a regular weekday in June)”

So forget about scale and units here … this is a concept diagram! The Sankey diagram links an individual’s consumption patterns with the bigger picture, thus stressing everybody’s personal share and responsibility in energy consumption (and the possibility to take action). Kudos for this idea!

Apart from that it is of course a fancy 3D rendering, and I love the rotation and close-up of the morning routine. Make sure you post a comment directly at Victor’s post, if you like it as much as I do!

Note: Somewhat related, check out Molly Eagan’s ‘Where is Petroleum in our Daily Lives’ here.

Found on cyclifier.org, a project run by Dutch 2012Architecten: This 3D Sankey diagram by Anna Brambilla visualizes flows of food from producers to the Rotterdam foodbank and onto low income households.


Source: http://www.cyclifier.org/project/foodbank (License: Share-Alike)

The image is explained as follows:

“Processes and actors are identified by labeled platforms with sub-processes shown as stacked platforms. The system boundary is shown as an extruded block indicating that it is one piece within a larger network. Starting from the edges of the cyclifier, distances are marked in intervals to indicate the distances traveled by inputs and outputs. Flows are scaled by mass as in sankey diagrams and are color-coded per flow type. Flows to and from the atmosphere are represented as traveling vertically.”

So, we have ‘Food and Organics’ flows (green), transport (yellow), users (purple) and even volunteer labor (brown) represented in the diagram. No numbers or units given though. Since cyclifier.org is interested in promoting “innovations that contribute to local exchange and production”, distances of producers to the foodbank and to the consumers are indicated on a somewhat logarithmic scale.

I just doubt that roughly a third of the output flows from food production is received by the foodbank. This is probaly to be taken symbolically and not for real…

Very cool Sankey diagram, kudos!

You might remember the radial Sankey diagrams “invented” by Visio guy (here). This 3-D version below left me speechless… I hope the guys at junkcharts dedicate a critical evaluation to it….


(view the original diagram here)

This is from EUROFER (The European Confederation of of Iron and Steel Industries) and shows steel flows in fifteen European countries (EUR-15) in million metric tons. Values are for 2004. The grey area is supposed to represent steel accumulated in capital goods (machinery, buildings, …) over a certain life time.

Whooo woah, that’s a merry go round, I feel dizzy already!

A follow up to this 2009 post. Here is a 2020 energy flow Sankey diagram for Ireland. This is one of many interesting graphs to be found inthe post ‘A Review of Green Energy Growth Prospects at the Oil Economy Maxima’ on the ASPO Ireland (Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas – Irish Chapter) blog.

Another runner-up in my private “Fancy Sankey Diagram” contest definitely is this Sankey diagram shown on a webpage of the Longford Environmental Alliance (LEA) from Ireland.

It visualizes the “Energy Balance for 2005 as a flow diagram showing our inputs from the left hand side and our outputs or usages on the right hand side.” It is a 3-D image, and kind of floats above the ground, although it doesn’t have a fancy shadow effect as this one does.

I have shown similar diagrams for California, Japan, Sri Lanka, Scotland and the U.S. before. In these national energy balances the various energy sources are shown as entries from the left, while consuming sectors (or the “sinks”) are displayed as output arrows. This Irish Sankey diagram distinguishes ‘Agriculture’ as a separate sector.

Well done Éire, home of late Mr. Sankey…

The World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in an article on “Making Tomorrow’s Building’s More Energy Efficient” features a great three-dimensional Sankey Diagram, to illustrate that “more than 90% of the energy extracted from the ground is wasted before it becomes useful work”. The article calls for green buildings where energy is produced onsite, and losses are minimized.

The Sankey arrows representing the losses bend down sharply, they remind me of the Iguazu Falls. Neat 3D images of the equipment are placed on the diagram to visualize the process steps where energy is lost. The whole thing hovers over the ground throwing a faint shade. The graphic designer who did this really merits an applause.

If ever I launch a ‘Best Sankey Diagram Award”, this one will have good chances to win it. Any sponsors out there? Any volunteers for the award jury?