Material flow analysis (MFA – here used as a synonym to include substance flow analysis) is an analytical method to quantify flows and stocks of materials or substances in a system. MFA is an important tool to study the bio-physical aspects of human activity on different spatial and temporal scales. It is an essential method for the study of urban/ agricultural metabolism and industrial ecology. In the system analysis group, we further the development of MFA tools with advanced functionalities including minimal input data aggregation, advanced visualizations, circularity indicators and customizable model code. We have applied MFA to nitrogen and phosphorus flows (Project: Nutriflow) and are extending its functionalities the protein transition and urban metabolism. We also develop ex-ante MFAs by studying technological changes and changes in dietary choices in the agri-food value chain (NutriChoice). In our work on MFA we further seek to extend and integrate with other methods including life cycle assessments, choice behaviors and affordability. Models underlying the MFA are written in Python, in which the open-source MFA tool FlowPy was developed.
Relevant projects are:
Input and output to and from the Flemish agri-food systems (source: NutriFlow project, Vingerhoets et al. 2022)