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Material Flow Analysis

  • David LanerEmail author
  • Helmut Rechberger
Chapter
Part of the LCA Compendium – The Complete World of Life Cycle Assessment book series (LCAC)

Abstract

Material flow analysis (MFA) is a tool to quantify the flows and stocks of materials in arbitrarily complex systems. MFA has been widely applied to material systems in providing useful information regarding the patterns of resource use and the losses of materials entering the environment. MFA and life cycle assessment (LCA) are traditionally different tools for environmental decision support. The two methods are basically different with respect to the definition of system boundaries and the actual subject of investigation. However, there are also overlaps between the tools. These overlaps highlight that MFA and LCA can complement each other and thereby increase the quality of studies in both domains. Thus, the combination of these tools offers the potential for more consistent and reliable decision support in environmental and resource management.

In this chapter, the authors aim at describing the state of the art in MFA and at highlighting the intertwined characters of MFA and LCA when it comes to the investigation of environmentally relevant material systems. Therefore, the main procedures, and the most important methodological approaches of MFA, are described in Sect. 2. Main applications of MFA to different problems and for different purposes based on selected cases from literature are dealt with in Sect. 3. In Sect. 4, the authors discuss the benefits of combining MFA and LCA including a brief outlook on the combined use of MFA and LCA in integrated assessments of environmentally relevant systems.

Keywords

Application of material flow analysis Combining MFA and LCA Dynamic material flow analysis Eco-factors Ecological scarcity method LCA LCIA Life cycle assessment Life cycle impact assessment MFA Mass conservation Material flow analysis SFA Static material flow analysis Statistical entropy Substance flow analysis Uncertainty analysis 

Acronyms

AP

Acidification potential

APC

Air pollution control

CED

Cumulative energy demand

CFCs

Chlorofluorocarbons

CO2

Carbon dioxide

COD

Cumulative energy demand

EOL

End-of-life

GWP

Global warming potential

HCl

Hydrogen chloride

HF

Hydrogen fluoride

LCA

Life cycle assessment

LCIA

Life cycle impact assessment

MFA

Material flow analysis

MSW

Municipal solid waste

ODP

Ozone depletion potential

OSR

Old scrap ratio

PUR

Polyurethane

RDF

Residue derived fuel

SE

Statistical entropy

SEA

Statistical entropy analysis

SFA

Substance flow analysis

VOCs

Volatile organic compounds

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste ManagementVienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria
  2. 2.Christian Doppler Laboratory for Anthropogenic ResourcesVienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria

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