Wood flow analysis: Quantification of resource potentials, cascades and carbon effects

Significance Statement

New market analysis methods for circular economy calculate sustainable use of resources, resource efficiency, carbon effects and cascades – economy meets technology

Market modelling in the last century was mainly based on production, trade and prices. The calculation of market equilibriums was the main focus of research activities. Circular economy or in a broader view bio-economy needs more information on residues, recycled material and the resource mix of producers. Most of them are not available in traditional statistics. Thus, empirical field work is the key issue towards the analysis of circular economy phenomenons like

• resource availability
• domestic biomass flows
• competition between material and energy uses
• residue occurrence
• recycling flows
• cascading use.

In the next step market structure should be better understood in terms of flows beyond production and trade. Which resources are used and where do they come from? When all flows (trade and domestic) are calculated they must add up in total. This is the basis of the wood resource balance, which summarizes all flows. Because of data inaccuracy or simply unavailability of data the balance is not perfect in the first step. But the balancing procedure detects all data gaps. Like in book keeping it double counts all flows with origin and use of a feedstock. Sometimes data are available at the starting point or at the end. But the more we know, the better we can estimate the gaps in a closed system. Again data optimizing is the main focus of the activity and not fancy mathematical models with some data which is officially available.

When the process of balancing all flow is accomplished the whole flow of a biomass can be calculated starting with the natural production, followed by semi-finished products, finished products and recycled material. Quite often feedstock analysis ends with the calculation of the resource and the first processing of the resource. Circular economy requires information on recycling processes and the recycling potential are the end-use sectors (construction, furniture, packaging, other). How much of the feedstock (wood) is in the end-use sector (construction)? Technical analysis is required to calculate feedstock input (wood volume by assortments) in the end-use sectors to complete the material flow.

If the whole flow is set up it can be used to serve in many ways. The flow is normally calculated on the basis of cubic meters, tones or other material measures. Over the whole calculation period economic market data are combined with technical coefficients (conversion factors). When the material flows are calculated they can be transformed in direct carbon flows, employment flows or value flows. Impacts of flow changes (scenarios) can be analyzed for a given year or over time.

About the author

Udo Mantau (www.holzwirtschaft.org) is a university professor in Forest Economics, Centre of Wood Science at the University of Hamburg/Germany. Before he began his university career he was managing a market research department for a marketing company of the C. Bertelsmann corporate group. As a researcher he has been working in the fields of market research, econometric modelling and marketing for many years. He applied his marketing experiences in a book on “Recreational and Environmental Markets for Forest Enterprises”. During the last years, major projects dealt with resource monitoring, such as regional capacities of the wood industry in Germany and Europe, biomass potentials and trade flows. Mantau generated the “Wood Resource Balance” which today is commonly used to give a complete view on the potential as well as consumption of wood resources. Recently this approach was developed further into a so called “total wood flow analysis” calculating recycling processes, cascade uses and CO2-sequestration in forest products. Mantau works as a consultant in the fields of forest products, construction industry and wood resources

Journal Reference

Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 79, 2015, Pages 28-38.

Udo Mantau

University of Hamburg, Centre of Wood Science, Leuschnerstrasse 91, 21031 Hamburg, Germany


Raw materials assume different forms during their use and thereby develop a multiplicity of effects upon the political environment. This article demonstrates the method of sectoral mass flow analysis using the example of the raw material wood. Under conditions of limited resources, market analysis methods must change from single flow analysis in an open (unlimited) system to interactive flow analysis in a closed (limited) system. The method of the wood resource balance is introduced, with its basic elements of resource monitoring, bottom-up approach, data counter checking and conversion factors. The method is applicable for manifold research topics. This is shown in three examples. The wood flow analysis represents a total resource assessment including all wood products in all process steps from forest to disposal. Based on the wood flow analysis, calculation schemes show how cascading factors can be calculated on a constant basis. Finally the CO2 effects of total wood use are calculated on a continuous basis

Go To Biomass and Bioenergy

Wood Flow Analysis Quantification of Resource Potentials, Cascades and Carbon Effects



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