Evaluating Opportunities to Improve Material and Energy Impacts in Commodity Supply Chains.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


When evaluated at the process level, next-generation technologies may be more energy and emissions intensive than current technology. However, many advanced technologies have the potential to reduce material and energy consumption in upstream or downstream processing stages. In order to fully understand the benefits and consequences of technology deployment, next-generation technologies should be evaluated in context, as part of a supply chain. This work presents the Material Flows through Industry (MFI) scenario modeling tool. The MFI tool is a cradle-to-gate linear network model of the U.S. industrial sector that can model a wide range of manufacturing scenarios, including changes in production technology, increases in industrial energy efficiency, and substitution between functionally equivalent materials. The MFI tool was developed to perform supply chain scale analyses in order to quantify the impacts and benefits of next-generation technologies and materials at that scale. For the analysis presented in this paper, the MFI tool is utilized to explore a case study comparing a steel supply chain to the supply chains of several functionally equivalent materials. Several of the alternatives to the baseline steel supply chain include next-generation production technologies and materials. Results of the case study show that aluminum production scenarios can out-perform the steel supply chain by using either an advanced smelting technology or an increased aluminum recycling rate. The next-generation material supply chains do not perform as well as either aluminum or steel, but may offer additional use phase reductions in energy and emissions that are outside the scope of the MFI tool. Future work will combine results from the MFI tool with a use phase analysis.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2016
EventInternational Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies - Phoenix, Arizona
Duration: 16 May 201618 May 2016


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies
CityPhoenix, Arizona

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-6A20-66236


  • Material Flows through Industry
  • MFI
  • supply chain analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating Opportunities to Improve Material and Energy Impacts in Commodity Supply Chains.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this