As part of the Canadian SPRUCE-UP research project one activity is dedicated to Genomic, Ethical, Environmental, Economic, Legal or Social (GE³LS) aspects of this applied genomics project. As part of their work the scientists have developed the Canadian Forest Service – Fiber Cascade Model (CFS-FCM) simulation model.


(see high res image here)

This Sankey diagram shows one specific scenario for a downstream flow of wood fibre from Canadian forests to products. Flows are in metric tonnes (probably for one reference year), with the exception of the ‘Bioenergy’ flow, shown in terajoules (TJ).

The European research project CASCADES’ objective was “to define the cascading use of wood and assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of cascading, to identify and analyse the barriers preventing cascading”. As a central element of the project a wood flow analysis was conducted.

From page 26 the 2016 final report [Vis M., U. Mantau, B. Allen (Eds.) (2016) Study on the optimised cascading use of wood. No 394/PP/ENT/RCH/14/7689. Final report. Brussels 2016. 337 pages)] comes this Sankey diagram depicting wood flows in the European Union (EU-28).

All flows are in Mm³ swe (solid wood equivalent). No absolute numbers are given to quantify the flows, instead three sample arrows serve a reference to the scale (“Legend of dimensions”).

The wood biomass is either used as material (left branches) or as energy (right branch). On the material side wood industry (yellow path) and paper industry (blue path) take up most of the biomass. Residues of both industries along with a good chunk of the post-consumer paper waste are being recovered and led in a cascading loop, until they eventually shift to the energetic side.

A complex and interesting Sankey diagram with much to discover. The CASCADES report describes all the areas of the wood flow system, identifies hotspots and describes measures for optimization.

A beautifully crafted Sankey diagram on wood in Austria can be found in the 2012 article ‘Die Bedeutung von Holz als erneuerbarer Energieträger’ (translation: ‘The importance of wood as a renewable energy source’) by Kasimir Nemestóthy on the waldwissen.net website. These are the wood streams in Austria in 2010.

All streams in solid cubic metre of wood (“Festmeter”, fm). Smaller streams less than 0.1 mio solid cubic metres are not displayed.

Here is how the diagram is structured: on the left the sources of wood with imports, harvesting from forests and other non-forest wood sources. Imports and harvested wood is directed mainly to sawmills (“Sägeindustrie”) and to paper industry. Non-forest wood as well as losses from wood industry (bark, wood chips) are for energetic use.

The dark green arrow is saw round wood with the bordeaux-colored stream representing bark. The brown arrow is industrial round wood of lesser quality, mainly used in paper industry. The light pink and light green arrows represent wood chips and firewood. Along with remains from the saw mills and paper industry it is destined for energetic use.

One minor design flaw at the top (arrow from imports to saw mills) where the green arrow overlaps the orange and red arrow in the curve), but by the untrained Sankey eye this will probably rarely be noticed.

There is a second Sankey diagram in the article that details the energy use, but I will save that one for a separate post.

From a presentation by Swiss company CTU Clean Technology Universe AG comes this Sankey diagram for energy flows in a wood gas process.

The diagram is set up for wood with 50% humidity and an energy content of 1 MJ. The process steps drying, gasification, methanation, CO2 removal yield gas with an energy content of 0,71 MJ (71%). Much of the offheat is recovered in the process, excess heat is fed to district heating.

Wood in brown, gas in orange, heat in red and electricity in blue.

Another Sankey diagram for wood gas here.

Nicely made infographic from steelconstruction.info wiki. What happens to the building materials on demolition, how much of concrete, timber and steel can be recycled?

The three arrows are curved and start at a 7-o’clock position. Used concrete from building demolition is mostly downcycled. Wood from structural frames is mostly landfilled, or re-used. Steel has a very good recyclability and most of the material can be recovered to make new steel.

The view angle and the images of construction machines make it a very attractive infographic.

Interesting comparative Sankey diagram on page 16 of the 2012 environmental declaration of Rosenheim Stadtwerke (Rosenheim City Power?).

The city is building or already running a wood gasification plant. Instead of just using the heat from directly burning wood (with 30% energy loss), they decided to work with a wood gas carburetor and use the wood gas to run a gas motor. This is somewhat similar to CHP where heat and electric power can be produced. Overall loss of energy (“Verluste”) in the system is only 23%.

The green box at the bottom displays the avoided fossil GHG emissions per tonne of wood for both technologies.

Flows are in MWh, but only some selected arrows are labeled. Unfortunately the flows are not always to scale: yellow arrow “Wärme” (heat) in figure at top representing 3,15 MWh, but shown as half the width of the blue arrow 4,5 MWh. I reckon the diagram was build manually from rectangles and triangles.

I received another diagram from Gabor Doka, who already pointed out the Swiss biomass flows Sankey diagrams to me. Gabor seems to have a close eye on publications in the environmental field in Switzerland, and he apparently is an avid follower of this blog. I appreciate.

He writes:

Now a very similar topic (just wood flows in Switzerland) but probably a by-the-book example of how not to do Sankey diagrams. This is from the FOEN magazine “Umwelt” issue 4/2008 (full PDF 8 MB here)

Shown are wood flows in Switzerland in million cubic metre. Again only in German though.

Errors that I saw include:
a) flows are slimming, when pointing in a non-vertical direction (“angle-dependent violation of mass conservation”). See e.g. “Stammholz Export” and “Energieholz” which both should be 1.3, but the latter is larger.
b) Addition of imports does not lead to wider flows. The author could not be bothered to deal with small flows, although 0.1 represents a 14 % increase over 0.7, i.e. perceptible.
c) The arrows representing “0.1” are over 2 times too wide, i.e. they visually represent 0.23. Also the arrow representing 0.7 is somewhat larger.

He continues:

What I do like is visual aid of identifying inland consumption (red arrows). Also inputs and outputs add up, which is always a nice thing 😉 However, this seems like a stitched together diagram drawn manually (and probably re-drawn for publication). This is supported by the angled design and observation that in the original paper publication, the main input representing 5.7 Mio m2 is exactly 5.7 cm wide…

Not much more to add from my side. Thanks, Gabor, for this contribution.

A reminiscence to the days when Sankey diagrams were drawn in black&white by hand and labeled with a typewriter. The three Sankey diagrams below from a 1990 article on “Energy conservation in the mechanical forest industries” by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO Forestry Paper No. 93, Rome 1990) illustrates energy use in sawn timber, plywood and particleboard production.

Sawmilling:

Plywood:

Particleboard:

The article explains that

“Although the diagrams are of an approximate nature they do serve to identify the relationship that each major energy consuming centre has with each other and also readily identifies the prime energy users to which particular attention should be paid in any conservation effort.

In all three product manufacturing processes heating is by far the largest user of energy, representing some 82-87 percent of the total energy requirement in the manufacture of sawntimber, plywood and particleboard, with drying accounting for approximately 87 percent, 61 percent and 62 percent respectively.”

Use of Sankey diagrams with kind permission of FAO