Practical Handbook of Material Flow Analysis
About 40 years ago, Abel Wolman coined the term metabolism of cities in an article for Scientific American . His pioneering view of a city as a living organism with inputs, stocks, and outputs of materials and energy has since inspired many others. Today, there are numerous studies describing metabolic processes of companies, regions, cities, and nations. While the phenomenology of the anthroposphere is described in several books and papers, there is no widely accepted methodology for applying these concepts. This handbook was written to help in establishing and disseminating a robust, transparent, and useful methodology for investigating the material metabolism of anthropogenic systems.
After many years of using and developing material flow analysis (MFA), we have seen the value of applying this method in various fields such as environmental management, resource management, waste management, and water quality management.
We have written this book to share our experience with engineering students, professionals, and a wider audience of decision makers. The aim is to promote MFA and to facilitate the use of MFA in a uniform way so that future engineers have a common method in their toolboxes for solving resource-oriented problems.
The hidden agenda behind the handbook comprises two objectives: resource conservation and environmental protection, otherwise known as “sustainable materials management.” We believe that human activities should not destroy or damage natural resources and systems. Future generations must be able to enjoy resources and the environment as we do. We also believe that this goal can be achieved if technology and social sciences are developed further. The case studies presented in this book exemplify the potential of MFA to contribute to sustainable materials management. This is a handbook directed toward the practitioner. The 14 case studies demonstrate how to apply MFA in practice. The exercises in the “Problem” sections that appear throughout the book serve to deepen comprehension and expertise. The MFA tool has not yet been perfected, and there is much room for further refinement. If the reader finds that the handbook promotes understanding of anthropogenic systems and leads to better design of such systems, then we have accomplished our goals. Since this book is not the final work on the subject, we would appreciate any comments and suggestions you may have. Our main hope is that this handbook encourages application of and discussion about MFA. We look forward to your comments on the Web site www.iwa.tuwien.ac.at/MFA-handbook.htm, where you will also find the solutions to the exercises presented in this handbook. We are grateful to Oliver Cencic, who wrote Sections 2.3 and 2.4 in Chapter 2, about data uncertainty and MFA software, and who contributed substantially to Case Study 1. The support of the members of the Waste and Resources Management Group at the Vienna University of Technology in editing the final manuscript is greatly acknowledged. Demet Seyhan was instrumental in preparing the case study on phosphorus. Bob Ayres and Michael Ritthoff supplied important comments on Chapter 2, Section 2.5. We are indebted to Inge Hengl, who did all the artwork and expertly managed the genesis and completion of the manuscript. Helmut Rechberger personally thanks Peter Baccini for conceding him the time to work on this handbook. Finally, we are particularly grateful for critical reviews by Bob Dean, Ulrik Lohm, Stephen Moore, and Jakov Vaisman, who evaluated a first draft of this handbook.
Paul H. Brunner
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