Month: November 2011

Comparing Power Plant Efficiency

Found this comparison of the efficiency of two power plant technologies on Russian design journal website (via jvetrau’s bookmarks on

The Sankey diagram is in German and from the quality of the image I assume it is a scan from a printed publication. This seems to be a comparison of power plant technologies (‘Kondensationskraftwerk’ vs. ‘Heizkraftwerk’). The plant on the left has 63% losses and produces only electric energy, while the one on the right makes use of 88% (of the primary energy?) and produces both heat and electricity. A nice detail is the power plant silhouette sitting at the top.

If anybody has a clue where this vintage-style Sankey diagram has been originally published, please let me know.

Industrial Compressed Air System

Craig Meskell from Trinity College, Dublin submitted the Sankey diagram below for publication on the blog.

Craig writes:

“here’s a Sankey diagram of the energy balance in an industrial compressed air system. The factory is situated in Ireland (not too far from Co. Tipperary!) [Note from Phineas: this is where Cpt. Sankey was born]. The work is detailed in: Eret, P., C. Harris, G. O’Donnell & C. Meskell, A practical approach to investigating energy consumption of industrial compressed air systems. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A (Journal of Power and Energy), 2011. DOI: 10.1177/0957650911423173″

A nice, simple, clear diagram. Thank you. If other readers have Sankey diagrams to share, please send them to

Sankey Use in Energy Management

In a presentation given by Jurgen Zettl at the EM2010 conference in Vienna, the author reports about the integrated energy management and reporting at Sandoz’ Kundl site.

Page 22 of the PowerPoint has the following Sankey diagram:

The pic isn’t very clear, and it is difficult to see any detail. The overall energy consumption of the Kundl site comes in from the left (962,5 GWh in 2009). It is broken down to electric energy, energy from fossil fuels and energy from biomass (Note: I was wondering about the latter, but this is explained on page 6 that this is “feed for fermentation, solvents, … “). The streams are further broken down by use area. At the right side the flows join again to visualize useful energy and energy losses.

Good to see that large industries are using Sankey diagrams as an important element of their integrated energy management…

Be sexy, but mind the details

A tiny example, but fun to see: income statement, apparently for a webhosting company. Operational Expenses (OPEX) in light blue, cost of goods sold (COGS) in light brown, net income in green. No currency given, I think this is just to convey the idea of “money flows” and to give an idea how data can be presented other than in tables.

This is from a post called “5 exciting alternatives to boring power points” at Speaking Power Point.

The detail shows though that even if Sankey diagrams are “sexier” than tables, you still need to pay attention to the details when drawing them. This one was apparently made in Power Point by joining shapes and arrows. Which wasn’t all that successful in some places, as the detail shows. Would have been better to use a Sankey diagram software.

3D circular Sankey ugliness

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!

Google Analytics use Sankey Diagrams

I was advised by a reader that Google Analytics now visualizes web visits with Sankey-style diagrams. On the Google Analytics blog this new instrument was presented.

“Our design team chose not to build individual “path analysis,” which can quickly become complicated. Instead, they took inspiration from a wide range of sources to reimagine approaches for visualizing visitor flow. Our goal is to help marketers and analysts better optimize their visitor experience by presenting the ways that visitors flow through their sites in an intuitive and useful way.”

(via visualisingdata)

The flows look neat, but they are still struggling with the diagonal routing of the arrows where the width of the flow is not maintained. Check the flow that leaves the node in the bottom left corner of the picture below.

(Source: Google Analytics Blog)

All in all a great new tool and this will surely help spread the idea of Sankey diagrams for visualizing flow quantities.