You are on page 1of 9

See

discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257130744

Exergoecology as a tool for ecological


modelling. The case of the US food production
chain

Article in Ecological Modelling April 2013


DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.01.021

CITATIONS READS

5 71

3 authors, including:

Antonio Valero Alicia Valero


University of Zaragoza Research Centre for Energy Resources and C
181 PUBLICATIONS 3,385 CITATIONS 64 PUBLICATIONS 397 CITATIONS

SEE PROFILE SEE PROFILE

Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects:

MEDEAS Project: Modeling the renewable energy transition in Europe. View project

All content following this page was uploaded by Alicia Valero on 07 September 2015.

The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. All in-text references underlined in blue are added to the original document
and are linked to publications on ResearchGate, letting you access and read them immediately.
Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Ecological Modelling
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolmodel

Exergoecology as a tool for ecological modelling.


The case of the US food production chain
Csar Torres, Antonio Valero, Alicia Valero
CIRCE Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption, Universidad de Zaragoza, Mariano Esquillor 15, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Exergoecology and in particular, thermoeconomic analysis is used to understand the process of cost
Received 11 October 2012 formation and to improve the design and the operation of extensive energy consumption systems such
Received in revised form 16 January 2013 as power and chemical plants. This paper shows the capabilities for using the thermoeconomic analysis
Accepted 18 January 2013
in environmental systems, and demonstrates that it could become a useful tool for identifying the ways
for improving the energy resources cost and the efciency of a macroeconomic system such as the US
Keywords:
food production chain. The environmental impact associated with each process in the food production
Exergoecology
chain can be quantied through a thermoeconomic approach as a cost function, which represents the
Thermoeconomics
Second Law
required natural resources to obtain a nal product. In the example provided, several simulations such
Food production chain as the impact of the change of meat diet basis for a vegetarian diet, and reusing the residual biomass are
Ecological modelling analyzed.
2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction for ecological systems have been extensively studied by a good


number of authors. Svirezhev (2000) used his so-called entropy-
As a consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the pump hypothesis as a measure of environmental degradation
Earth is naturally increasing its entropy. Through the energy of the under detrimental human impact such as intensive agriculture.
sun, this natural degradation can be regenerated. However, eco- Similarly, Jorgensen and Svirezhev (2004), Jorgensen (2006) used
nomic development is accelerating the entropy generation process, Eco-exergy, which measures how far ecosystems are from ther-
whilst simultaneously degrading natural resources and polluting modynamic equilibrium, to study the level of development of
the environment (Georgescu-Roegen, 1971). In order to stop or at ecosystems. Abiotic resources such as minerals or water have been
least to slow down this man-made disequilibrium, it is important to also quantied in exergy terms. Different approaches of doing this
understand these processes, by identifying the main sources where can be found in Ayres and Ayres (1996), Finnveden and Ostland
the damage originates. Consequently, appropriate models able to (1997), Valero and Valero (2010), and Valero et al. (2009). Fur-
describe the natural environment and the interactions with man are thermore, exergy has been proposed as the numeraire in life cycle
needed. In this sense, Thermoeconomics and in particular its branch analysis (Cornelissen, 1997).
Exergoecology (Valero, 1998) could become a powerful tool. Exer- Beyond the exergy evaluation of resources, Thermoeconomics
goecology derives from the general theory of exergy cost developed provides a structural framework to Exergoecology, allowing the
by Valero et al. (1986) and is dened as the exergy assessment of organization and analysis of information. Thermoeconomics is a
natural resources. general theory for energy saving (Lozano and Valero, 1993) and
In any natural or man-made process, property exergy measures it has been commonly used in the analysis of power or chemi-
the quality of the production ows. Material and energy ows are cal plants (see for example the CGAM (Valero et al., 1994) or the
measured in the same units, simplifying the analysis. More speci- TADEUS (Valero et al., 2004) works).
cally, the exergy of a ow is the minimum amount of work required The aim of this paper is to explain how Thermoeconomics can
for its production, from a dened reference environment. be applied to a wider variety of energy and environmental systems.
The capabilities of the properties based on the Second Law of Thermoeconomics combines economic and thermodynamic analy-
Thermodynamics such as entropy or exergy as the unit of measure sis by applying the Second Law through the physical entity entropy
generation or irreversibility. The latter represents the useful energy
destroyed in all physical processes. Since all common processes in
Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 976761863; fax: +34 976732078. current industrial systems are not reversible, natural resources are
E-mail addresses: ctorresc@unizar.es (C. Torres), consumed and lost forever. The more irreversible a process is, the
valero@unizar.es, aliciavd@unizar.es (A. Valero), alici-avd@unizar.es (A. Valero). more natural resources are consumed. Nothing can be done without

0304-3800/$ see front matter 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.01.021
22 C. Torres et al. / Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128

dened, exergy cost of a physical ow, denoted E* , is the amount of


external resources, measured in terms of exergy, required to obtain
n number of processes
such ow.
E exergy (GJ)
The exergy cost is an emergent property. It cannot be measured
c unit exergy cost (GJ/GJ)
as a separate physical property like temperature or enthalpy. It
C exergy cost (GJ)
depends on the system structure. Not only the cost of an individual
F exergy of fuel (GJ)
ow needs to be calculated, but a complete set of interrelated cost
P exergy of product (GJ)
ows.
y distribution ratio
Thermoeconomics goes further than an exergy IO analysis,
q junction ratio
by introducing the concepts of purpose by means of the deni-
ExROI exergy rate of investment
tion of efciency. Input ows are not necessarily resources (F), nor
are all output ows necessarily products (P). The classication of
Greek symbols
resources and products depends on the productive purpose. This
 exergy efciency
information, which is not implicit in the Second Law, includes the
 unit exergy consumption
economics of the process in the analysis.
 increment
To illustrate the strength of Thermoeconomics a highly aggre-
gated system such as the US food production chain represented
Vector and matrices
through a Sankey diagram will be used, see Fig. 1. This simple model
UD identity matrix
analyzes and gives hints on how to optimize the energy consump-
KD unit consumption diagonal matrix
tion of the food chain.
HD efciency diagonal matrix
FP matrix of distribution ratios
PF matrix of junction ratios 2. Energy and food
P| production operator matrix
P | production cost operator matrix Before the 20th century the ratio between required energy for
|F fuel operator matrix production in the agricultural sector and the energy content in
form of food was 1:100. This is because the energy input in the
Subscripts and superscripts food produced was predominately derived from the solar radiation
e external resources absorbed by the crop during its growth cycle. However modern
s nal products agriculture requires a much higher energy input than that which is
nrs non-renewable sources solely provided by the sun. In fact this non-solar energy is a larger
rs renewable sources amount than the calories obtained once it is eaten. For industri-
t transpose matrix alized beef production, for example, should animal feed imported
from overseas be utilized, this ratio becomes 35:1, and may even
reach values as high as of 500:1 for winter greenhouse vegetables
(von Weizsacker et al., 1997).
the expenditure of natural resources, and the amount required to
Besides the CO2 coming from the fossil fuel use, agriculture
obtain a desired product is equivalent to its exergy cost. All pro-
production increases the atmospheres carbon stock through for-
duction processes are irreversible. Consequently, the exergy cost
est clearing and the release of soil carbon through crop growing.
of a product can be expressed as the useful energy or exergy
Food production also contributes to global warming through the
contained in that product plus all the irreversibilities generated to
release of methane from livestock, crops and the burning of wastes
obtain it (Agudelo et al., 2012). The analysis of the cost formation
(Deumling et al., 2003).
of processes is where physics best connects with economics.
Human activity has a considerable environmental impact, with
The methodology presented here is closely related to the
the food sector being an important (and mandatory) human
InputOutput (IO) analysis (Miller and Blair, 2009). The mathe-
activity. There is a wide variation in the environmental impact
matical principles are very similar, but the inputoutput table is
generated. This is because it is dependent on the type of food and
transformed into a fuel-product model, in which the Second Law is
the method of producing that food. An important cyclic feedback
used in the analysis of the processes.
principle links the environment with the food sector.
Other studies such as those of Hau and Bakshi (2004) have
The environment inuences the quality and capacity of food
applied exergy to InputOutput analysis to a sample of industrial
production, which in turn inuences the environment. A degraded
and ecological systems. In the same way, emergy has been also used
environment may be less healthy for humans and other organisms,
as a unit of measure for IO analysis. Emergy values resources, ser-
and it is also less able to produce the range and amount of food
vices and commodities in common units of the solar energy it took
that an environment in better condition could achieve (Riley, 2005).
to make them Odum (1995).
Each basic process that comprises the food chain has an efciency
Thermoeconomics is based on the exergy analysis. This allows
and a resources cost that could be evaluated by means of the
solving the often encountered problem of allocating costs among
thermoeconomic analysis, allowing the identication of potential
co- and by-products, as it happens for instance when emergy units
improvements.
are used (Baral and Bakshi, 2010). The exergy cost (Valero, 2006) is
used for process accounting, allowing the identication of global
savings produced through internal improvements. Three condi- 3. The fuel-product model
tions are needed to allocate costs. First, the denition of the system
boundaries. Next, a system structure, in which every process is Symbolic exergoeconomics (Torres, 2009) provides general rela-
interacting with each other though energy ows, and last, the def- tionships between the production demand and the resources cost
inition of the production purpose for each process. with the efciency and irreversibilities of each individual process in
Formally, the exergy cost is dened as follows: given a system an energy system. As explained previously, the distinguishing ele-
whose boundaries, aggregation level and purpose of each and every ment in Thermoeconomics from conventional energy and exergy
process making up the system making up the system have been analysis is purpose. Matter and energy ows entering and exiting a
C. Torres et al. / Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128 23

Fig. 1. Energy balance in the food chain of USA (Barney, 1980).

given system are classied into fuel and product. Fuel (F) refers to represented by the fuel-product table (see Table 1) which describes
the resources that the component uses to achieve its purpose, and how the production processes are related.
product (P) corresponds to the ows related to that purpose. Let us consider a system formed by, say n processes. Let Pi denote
The physical structure of a system (where all physical ows the exergy of the process i production, which is used in part to meet
appear), needs to be converted into a productive structure the intermediate requirement as input resources of other processes
and in part to meet the nal demand of the system. If Eij denotes the
Table 1 exergy of process i uses as resource for process j, and Ei0 denotes
Generic fuel-product table. the nal demand produced in process i, the following expression is
formed:
F0 F1 ... Fn

P0 E01 ... E0n


P1 E10 E11 ... E1n 
n

... ... ... Eij ... Pi = Ei0 + Eij , i = 1, . . . , n (1)


Pn En0 En1 ... Enn j
24 C. Torres et al. / Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128

On the other hand, the input resources of each process i, say Fi , is in The external resources: Fe (E01 , . . ., E0n )
part coming from external resources, say E0i and in part from the The efciency of each process i = Pi /Fi or equivalently the unit
production of other processes, then we have the condition: consumption of each process ki = 1/i
The distribution ratios dened as yij = Eij /Pi

n
Fi = E0i + Eji , i = 1, . . . , n (2)
j
According to this model the production of each process is obtained
as:
Second Law states that the difference between fuel and product is
a positive value and equal to the irreversibility (I), accounting for P = t P|Fe , whereP| (KD FP)1 (10)
the losses appearing in the process: Fi Pi = Ii 0. Furthermore, the
unit exergy consumption is dened as the ratio between fuel and The term KD is a diagonal matrix whose elements are ki , and FP
product: ki = Fi /Pi 1 is a matrix whose elements are the distribution ratios yij . The total
The fuel and product equations (1) and (2) could be written in production is calculated as:
terms of exergy costs as:
PT = t Fe P|y0 (11)
n
+
CP,i = Ei0 Eij , i = 1, . . . , n where t y0 (y10 , . . . , yn0 ) is a vector that contains the distribution
ratios associated with the environment.
j
(3) The cost of producing each process is given by:

n
+
CF,i = E0i Eji , i = 1, . . . , n
CP = t P |Fe , whereP | (UD FP)1 (12)
j
Eqs. (10) and (12) can be used to obtain the following relation-
where Eij denotes the exergy costs of the ow Eij , and CP,i and CF,i
ship (13) between the production costs and the irreversibilities of
are the cost of product and fuel of process i respectively.
the system processes:
The Exergy Cost Theory, denes three propositions in order to
determine the production exergy cost: CP = P + t P |I (13)

P1. If there is unknown how much exergy has been needed to which means that the physical production cost of a product is equal
produce the resource ows, then the costing analysis will refer to its exergy plus the sum of all irreversibilities generated to produce
to consumed resources into the boundary limits. Therefore: the it. In this way, we link the physical production cost of any system
cost of the external resources is known and equal to its exergy: with the irreversibilities occurred in its production process, and
this is why production costs are denoted as exergy costs in Ther-

E0i = E0i (4) moeconomics. The coefcients pij of the matrix P | represents the
P2. Cost is a conservative property: the exergy cost of fuel is equal portion of exergy destroyed in the i-th process to obtain the product
to the exergy cost of product, it means, exergy cost is a conservative of process j-th.
property. It should be stated that the resulting costs of products depend on
the way in which the external resources of the considered system
CP,i = CF,i (5) are assessed. If these are evaluated in exergy terms, as it is proposed
P3. Exergy efciency is used as allocation property: the exergy here, products will be valued in exergy cost terms as expressed
cost of the ows produced in a component is proportional to their in Eq. (13). However, if external resources are valued in cumula-
exergy, therefore: tive exergy terms, i.e. accounting for the exergy required to obtain
those external resources, then the associated costs (exergoecolog-
Eij = cP,i Eij (6) ical costs) of products will be dened as the amount of resources
(of a renewable and non-renewable nature) required to obtain the
where cP,i is the exergy cost per unit of production.
given product. In the same way, if external resources are assessed
in monetary terms, using the price of natural gas, oil, coal, electric-
The previous equations could be combined in the way of the fol-
ity, etc., the methodology still allocates costs in proportion to the
lowing equation:
exergy of ows, as expressed in Eq. (12), but the obtained costs of

n products are given in monetary terms, relative to the initial price
CP,i = E0i + cP,i Eji (7) given to the external resources.
j=1 The other representation, called PF or demand driven, allows
for the expressing of resources and their costs as a function of:
The exergy cost of the products CP,i can be thus determined by
solving the set of linear equations given by:
The production demand Ps (E10 , . . ., En0 )

n
Eji The efciency of each process i Pi /Fi
CP,i CP,i = E0i (8) The junction ratios, represented by the matrix PF, whose ele-
Pj
j=1 ments are dened as qij Eij /Fj
or in an equivalent way, for the unit exergy cost, cP,i :
The resources used in each process are obtained as:

n
Eji E
cP,i cP,j = 0i (9) F = |FPs where |F (HD PF)1 (14)
Pi Pi
j=1
where HD KD 1 is a diagonal matrix (nn), containing the ef-
Symbolic exergoeconomics provides two different representa- ciency i of each process.
tions of the productive model: Through the FP or resources driven The cost per production unit can be obtained as:
representation, the production and the cost of each process in the
system is a function of: cP = t |Fq0 (15)
C. Torres et al. / Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128 25

Table 2 Table 3
Dened processes for food chain in the USA. Fuel-product table for the USA food chain (GJ).

Number Process F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Sum

1 Vegetal biomass production E0rs 0 80 0 0 0 0 80


2 Harvest production E0nrs 0 0 7 15 13.5 0 35.5
3 Animal food production P1 0 0 60 0 0 0 60
4 Vegetal food production P2 5 0 51.5 3.5 0 0 60
5 Human food demand P3 0 0 0 0 0 1.9 1.9
P4 0 0 0 0 0 3.1 3.1
P5 3.6 0 0 0 0 0 3.6
where q0 (q01 , . . ., q0n ), and the unit cost of fuel used in each Sum 8.6 80 67 66.5 17 5
process:

cF = q0 + t PFcP (16) mechanical manufacturing, cattle raising, food preparation, ship-


ping and distribution. . ., whereas biomass energy is provided by
Finally, the total cost of the external resources FT can be expressed
plants, taking energy directly from the sun.
as a function of the system demand as:
Eqs. (12) and (15) allow for the computing of production cost.
FT = t q0 |FPs (17) The distribution coefcient matrix FP corresponding to the
base model, from 3 is:
Using these relationships it is also possible to determine the vari-
0 1 0 0 0

ation of the total resources as a function of the variation of the
parameters of the PF representation: 0 0 0.858 0.0584 0
FP = 0 0 0 0 1

n

0 0 0 0 1
FT = (c0i q0i Fi + cP,j qji Fi + cF,i i Pi + cP,i Ei0 ) (18)
0 0 0 0 1
i=1 j
and the production cost matrix P | is obtained as:
The above expression is known as the Fuel Impact Formula (Torres
1 1 0.858 0.0584 0.917
et al., 2002), the rst two terms correspond to the variation of
the junction (structural) ratios, the third term to the variation of 0 1 0.858 0.0584 0.917
P | = (UD FP)1 = 0 0 1 0 1
the processes efciency and the last term to the system demand
variation. 0 0 0 1 1
Through the example presented in the next section1 it will be 0 0 0 0 1
shown how thermoeconomics can be applied to a macroeconomic
The coefcients of matrix P | are the amount of each external
system such as the US food production chain, giving insights to
resource used to obtain a unit of a product process. So, for example,
potential improvements. The software used to solve the example
the exergy cost of vegetal food:
can be obtained in Torres et al. (2007).
CP,4 = 80 0.0584 + 7 0.0584 + 13.5 = 18.58 GJ
4. Applying thermoeconomics to the analysis of the food
These equations could be also used to break down the costs consid-
production chain
ering the different types of resources. The resource cost vector can
be separated into two terms:
The Global 2000 Report (Barney, 1980) presented a ow dia-
gram of energy for American food production (see Fig. 1). For Fe = Frs nrs
e + Fe , (19)
around 3.6 GJ (per capita) of human food energy, 35.5 GJ of tech-
the rst term represents the exergy of the renewable resources and
nical energy are expended, without accounting for the solar gift
the last term the non renewable or fossil resources. Therefore, the
of 80 GJ that is absorbed by plants. It seems more than plausible
production cost can be broken down into its renewable and fossil
that this great amount of energy demand from agriculture and
parts: CP = Crs nrs
P + CP , where:
food processing could be substantially reduced with essentially no
Crs t rs
sacrice of wellbeing (von Weizsacker et al., 1997). In this endeav- P P |Fe
our, thermoeconomics could help to identify and quantify these (20)
Cnrs t nrs
reductions. P P |Fe

Following the diagram of 1, the food chain system could be Similar expressions can be used to compute the unitary production
decomposed into ve basic processes, described in Table 2 and rep- cost.
resented graphicly by means of the productive diagram of Fig. 2(a). The denition of fossil or non-renewable production cost is
equivalent to the concept of the exergy rate of investment (ExROI)
4.1. The food production chain. Reference case study (Font de Mora et al., 2012) which is dened as the amount of prod-
uct obtained per unit of non-renewable resources used.
The thermoeconomic model of the food chain of Fig. 2(a) is rep- P 1
resented by the fuel-product table (Table 3). From this table it is ExROI = = nrs (21)
CPnrs cP
possible to obtain the production cost of each process. In this exam-
ple it is interesting to separate the cost associated with fossil fuels In Table 4, the unit consumption of each process is shown. The
and that with biomass energy. Fossil fuels are required in all pro- ratio of the total fossil fuel required per calorie consumed is approx-
nrs = 9.70), a clear indicator of the high inefciency
imately 10:1 (cP,5
cesses of food production: draining, irrigation, chemical products,
of the current food production chain. Also note that the production
of meat (process 3) requires 2.5 times more fossil energy resources
1
This simple example is taken for illustrating the details of the method, but the
(11.06 vs. 4.49) than that of vegetal production (process 4). By far,
authors are aware that most of the results could have been obtained without any the most inefcient process (identied by ) is the production of
inated matrix analysis. meat.
26 C. Torres et al. / Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128

Table 4 4.2. Recycling biomass residues


Efciency and production costs of processes for the base case. Production cost values
in GJ/GJ for cP and GJ for CP .
The aim now is to identify and quantify possible optimization
Process  Fossil fuels Biomass Total
options of the food chain. In the rst scenario, the effect of recycling
cPnrs CPnrs cPrs CPrs cP CP 10% of crop residues (2 GJ) and reusing them as fuel in the next
1 1.33 0.00 0.00 1.33 80.00 1.33 80.00 process are analyzed. The unit consumption of the rst process is
2 1.12 0.12 7.00 1.33 80.00 1.45 87.00 reduced to 1 = 1.29 and the external resources of the second pro-
3 35.0 11.06 21.00 36.14 68.67 47.20 89.68 cess to C02 = 5. It is assumed that the distribution ratios and the nal
4 5.48 4.49 13.91 1.51 4.67 5.99 18.58 demand of the system do not change.
5 1.39 9.70 34.92 20.37 73.33 30.07 108.25
Using Eq. (12) it is possible to compute the production costs.
Since biomass energy and the cost distribution matrix P | does
Fig. 2(b) shows the exergy cost diagram, which explains the not change, the production costs associated with the consumption
process of cost formation of food requirements. of biomass does not change either.
Starting with the reference case, several scenarios will be Table 5 shows the new costs associated to the consumption
analyzed in order to demonstrate the robustness of the thermoeco- of fossil fuels. As it can be seen, recycling 10% of crop residues
nomic approach for the evaluation of the environmental impact of reduces the fuel consumption by 2 GJ, i.e. the ratio between
the food chain, and for the identication of potential improvements the fuel required and the energy consumption is reduced by
within the food sector. 5.25%.

Fig. 2. Exergy and cost productive diagrams of the food chain in the USA: (a) productive diagram and (b) cost diagram.
C. Torres et al. / Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128 27

Table 5
In these simulations, fossil fuel is distinguished from biomass
Production costs due to fossil fuel, recycling 10% biomass.
resources. Fossil fuels have an explicit cost: they have a market
Process cPnrs (GJ/GJ) CPnrs (GJ) price, an environmental impact, externality costs, etc. Biomass
1 0 0.00 resources are a different case, since biomass energy is provided
2 0.08 5.00 by the sun which is free. Nevertheless, the solar energy provided
3 10.15 19.29 to biomass is proportional to the harvest area. Furthermore in this
4 4.45 13.79
5 9.19 33.08
model the energy consumed per person is considered, therefore
a reduction of biomass resources implies a reduction of required
Total 33.50
harvest area, i.e. more people could be fed by the same land are.
Hence, the reduction of biomass requirements per person is also a
key consideration in sustainable development.
4.3. Process efciency impact

5. Conclusions
In this scenario it is assumed that the efciency of each single
process is increased by 10% without modifying the nal demand
This paper shows the capabilities of exergoecology, and in par-
and the system structure (junction ratios). Eq. (18) is used for this
ticular of thermoeconomics for the analysis of ecological systems.
purpose, with i = 0.1. The impact in resources consumption is
The main objective of this methodology is the analysis of the cost
broken down into the fraction coming from biomass and from fossil
formation process in energy systems. The environmental impact
fuels (see Table 6).
associated to each process can be quantied as a cost function in
Eq. (22) is used to compute the fuel impact of each efciency
terms of natural resources consumption. Starting with a Sankey
simulation.The cost of fuel is evaluated for the simulated scenario
diagram, it is shown and quantied in terms of exergy cost that
and the production corresponds to the reference case study.
an animal-based diet requires more energy, land and other natu-
FTi = cF,i i Pi0 (22) ral resources than a plant-based diet. In fact, the production and
processing of meat (and other animal-derived products) has the
Note that improving the efciency of the last link of the food largest impact on energy use, water use and land disturbance of
production chain has an important impact on the fossil fuel con- humans diet. Consuming less meat and supplying the required
sumption. However, in only improving the efciency of the rst energy demand with a richer vegetable diet, provides an important
stages the impact is restricted to solely a reduction in the amount fossil fuel saving and allows for the feeding of more people.
of biomass needed. An important conclusion can be thus drawn: Other aspects of Thermoeconomics such as the principle of
in order to improve the energy efciency of the food chain, major non-equivalence of irreversibilities (Kotas, 1985) are also illus-
efforts must be focused on the last production stages. trated in the above example, and is indicative of the importance
of reducing and recycling wastes whilst improving the efciency of
4.4. A change in the food diet the nal stages of the productive food chain. An improvement in
food processing, from a sustainability perspective could be accom-
The last scenario analyzes what would happen if less meat and plished by buying locally grown and seasonal products, reducing
more vegetables are eaten. As aforementioned, the production of the fossil fuel consumption associated with transportation, pro-
food derived from animals requires much more resources than that vided that the production processes are equally or more efcient.
originating from plants. In the reference model a person consumes The methodology presented here is simple but powerful, and
62% of vegetables and 38% of food derived from animals. What combines economic InputOutput analysis with the Second Law of
would happen if meat consumption was reduced by 10%, yet still Thermodynamics. The latter is currently being applied to a com-
maintaining the nal demand of energy per person at 3.6 GJ/year? prehensive analysis of the European food chain.
To simulate this scenario the junction ratios q35 = 0.38 0.318 The search of a sustainable food system will generate benets in
and q45 = 0.62 0.682 whilst rest of parameters are kept constant. numerous areas: health, biodiversity, ecological restoration, energy
Eq. (18) can be used to compute the resources consumption impact saving or economic justice. None of these benets alone may out-
for this simulation as: weigh the apparent short term gains of the current destructive

system. However, the sum of these benets will construct a more
FT = cP,3 q35 + cP,4 q45 F5 (23) sustainable society and should help to avoid the trap of increasing
production and entropy generation at the expense of an increas-
Eq. (23), using the unit production cost associated with fossil fuels
ingly degraded Earth.
and biomass, implies a saving of 10.74 GJ (13.42 %) of biomass
resources, and 2.04 GJ (5.73 %) of fossil fuels.
On the other hand, if we would reduce the energy demand per References
person by 10%, the associated saving would be equal to 3.49 GJ
Agudelo, A., Valero, A., Torres, C., 2012]. Allocation of waste cost in thermoeconomic
(9.84%) of fossil fuels and 7.33 GJ (9.16 %) of biomass, which could analysis. Energy 45, 634643.
be computed using the expression: Ayres, R., Ayres, L., 1996]. Industrial Ecology. Towards Closing the Material Cycle.
Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham U.K.
FT = cP,5 E50 Baral, A., Bakshi, B.R., 2010]. Emergy analysis using US economic inputoutput
models with applications to life cycles of gasoline and corn ethanol. Ecological
Modelling 221, 18071818.
Barney, G.O., 1980]. The Global 2000 Report to the President of the US. Entering the
Table 6 21st Century. The Summary Report, vol. 1. Pergamon Press, New York.
Impact of resources consumption with a 10% increase on the process efciency. Cornelissen, R.L., 1997. Thermodynamics and sustainable development. The use of
exergy analysis and the reduction of irreversibility. Ph.D. Thesis, University of
Process FTnrs (GJ) FTrs (GJ) FTnrs (GJ)
Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. Available at: http://doc.utwente.nl/32030
1 0.000 0.00% 6.000 7.50% 6.000 5.19% Deumling, D., Wackernagel, M., Monfreda, Ch., 2003. Eating up the earth: how
2 0.627 1.77% 7.881 9.85% 8.507 7.37% sustainable food systems shrink our ecological footprint Agriculture Footprint
3 0.060 0.17% 0.216 0.27% 0.276 0.24% Brief, Redening Progress. Available at: http://www.agron.iastate.edu/courses/
agron515/eatearth.pdf
4 0.254 0.71% 0.094 0.12% 0.347 0.30%
Finnveden, G., Ostland, P., 1997]. Exergies of natural resources in life-cycle assess-
5 2.514 7.08% 5.808 7.26% 8.322 7.21%
ment and other applications. Energy 22, 923931.
28 C. Torres et al. / Ecological Modelling 255 (2013) 2128

Font de Mora, E., Torres, C., Valero, A., 2012]. Assessment of biodiesel energy Torres, C., Perez, E., Valero, A., 2007. TAESS: Thermoeconomic Analysis of Energy
sustainability using the exergy return on investment concept. Energy 45, System Software. Available at: http://www.exergoecology.com/taess (Accessed,
474480. Feb. 2013).
Georgescu-Roegen, N., 1971]. The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. Harvard Valero, A., Valero, Al., 2010]. Exergoecology: a thermodynamic approach for
University Press, Cambridge, MA. accounting the Earths mineral capital. The case of bauxitealuminium and
Hau, J., Bakshi, B., 2004]. Expanding exergy analysis to account for ecosystem prod- limestonelime chains. Energy 35, 229238.
ucts and services environ. Science and Technology 38, 37683777. Valero, A., 1998]. Thermoeconomics as a conceptual basis for energy-ecological anal-
Jorgensen, S., Svirezhev, Y., 2004]. Towards a Thermodynamic Theory for Ecological ysis. In: Ulgiati, S., et al. (Eds.), Advances in Energy Studies. Energy Flows in
Systems. Elsevier, U.K. Ecology and Economy. , pp. 415444.
Jorgensen, S., 2006]. In: Tiezzi, E. (Ed.), Eco-Exergy as Sustainability. WIT Press, U.K. Valero, A., 2006]. Exergy Accounting: Capabilities and Drawbacks. Energy 31,
Kotas, T.J., 1985]. The exergy Method of Thermal Plant Analysis. Butterworths, U.K. 164180.
Lozano, M.A., Valero, A., 1993]. Theory of exergetic cost. Energy 18 (9), 939960. Valero, A., Lozano, M.A., Muoz, M., 1986]. A general theory of exergy saving. Part I:
Miller, R.E., Blair, P.D., 2009]. InputOutput Analysis. Fundations and Extensions, on the exergetic cost. In: Gaggioli, R.A. (Ed.), In: ASME. AES, vol. 2-3. Computer-
2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, U.K. Aided Engineering and Energy Systems. Second Law Analysis and Modelling.
Odum, H.T., 1995]. Environmental Accounting. Emergy and Environmental Decision ASME Book No. H0341C, vol. 3, pp. 18.
Making. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., NY. Valero, A., Lozano, M.A., Serra, L., Tsatsaronis, G., Pisa, J., Frangopoulos, C.A., von
Riley, M., 2005. Eating green: How should we eat to best protect the environment. Spakovsy, M.R., 1994]. CGAM problem: denition and conventional solution.
Available at: http://www.heia.com.au/images/2005Conference/conf05Riley.pdf Energy 19, 279286.
Svirezhev, Y., 2000]. Thermodynamics and ecology. Ecological Modelling 132, Valero, A., et al., 2004]. On the thermoeconomic approach to the diagnosis
1122. of energy system malfunctions. Part 1: the TADEUS problem. Energy 29,
Torres, C., 2009]. Symbolic thermoeconomic analysis of energy systems. In: Fran- 18751887.
gopoulos, C.A. (Ed.), In: Exergy, Energy System Analysis and Optimization, vol. Valero, A., Uche, J., Valero, A., Martnez, A., 2009]. Physical hydronomics: application
2. Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp. 6182. of the exergy analysis to the assessment of environmental costs of water bodies.
Torres, C., Valero, A., Serra, L., Royo, J., 2002]. Structural theory and thermoeconomic The case of the inland basins of Catalonia. Energy 34, 21012107.
diagnosis: Part I. On malfunction and dysfunction analysis. Energy Conversion von Weizsacker, E., Lovins, A., Lovins, L., 1997. Factor Four: Doubling Wealth, Halving
and Management 43, 15031518. Resource Use. The New Report to the Club of Rome. Earthscan Ltd.

View publication stats