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Emergy Algebra: Improving Matrix Methods for Calculating Tranformities
Li, L., H. Lu, D. E. CAMPBELL, AND H. Ren. Emergy Algebra: Improving Matrix Methods for Calculating Tranformities. ECOLOGICAL MODELLING. Elsevier Science BV, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 221(3):411-422, (2010).
The potential impact of this paper within the community of scientists applying emergy methods is high. It describes a revised method for calculating transformities within a network of energy flows. This method structures the equations so that they can be solved by matrix inversion and provides rules for writing the equations to be solved in a manner that avoids double-counting.
Transformity is one of the core concepts in Energy Systems Theory and it is fundamental to the calculation of emergy. Accurate evaluation of transformities and other emergy per unit values is essential for the broad acceptance, application and further development of emergy methods. Since the rules for the calculation of emergy are different from those for energy, particular calculation methods and models have been developed for use in the emergy analysis of networks, but double counting errors still occur because of errors in applying these rules when estimating the emergies of feedbacks and co-products. In this paper, configurations of network energy flows were classified into seven types based on commonly occurring combinations of feedbacks, splits, and co-products. A method of structuring the network equations for each type using the rules of emergy algebra, which we called “preconditioning” prior to calculating transformities, was developed to avoid double counting errors in determining the emergy basis for energy flows in the network. The results obtained from previous approaches, the Track Summing Method, the Minimum Eigenvalue Model and the Linear Optimization Model, were reviewed in detail by evaluating a hypothetical system, which included several types of interactions and two inputs. A Matrix Model was introduced to simplify the calculation of transformities and it was also tested using the same hypothetical system. In addition, the Matrix Model was applied to two real case studies, which previously had been analyzed using the existing method and models. Comparison of the three case studies showed that if the preconditioning step to structure the equations was missing, double counting would lead to large errors in the transformity estimates, up to 275 percent for complex flows with feedback and co-product interactions. After preconditioning, the same results were obtained from all methods and models. The Matrix Model reduces the complexity of the Track Summing Method for the analysis of complex systems, and offers a more direct and understandable link between the network diagram and the matrix algebra, compared with the Minimum Eigenvalue Model or the Linear Optimization Model.