Materials, Energy, Information Project

Materials, Energy, Information Project 

Project Members:
++ Kim Smith
++ Masa Nakamura


Research activities:
++ Writing a paper titled “Flows of Materials, Energy, and Information in a Sustainable Society”


Flows of Materials, Energy, and Information in a Sustainable Society

Masato R. Nakamura1 and Kim Smith2

1 Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology and Industrial Design
New York City College of Technology (City Tech), City University of New York (CUNY)
186 Jay Street, Voorhees Hall Room 532, Brooklyn, NY 11201,
Tel: +1 (718) 260 5532, Email:

2 Department of Technology & Society
Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY)
347A Harriman • Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3760,
Tel: +1 (516) 637 5119, Email:

Abstract: Analyzing materials and energy flows in the world is necessary for reducing the consumption of natural resources and the usage of energy. However, they are highly depending on utilizing information related to the balance of their supply and demand. Also, how information flows in our society interacting materials and energy flows has been less studied, even though information, processed in servers, computers, smartphones and transferred among these digital infrastructures/devices, plays an important role for reducing materials and energy consumption. In this study, information transfer is compared as an analogy with heat and mass transfers. We analyzed how materials, energy, and information are interacted in a sustainable society. From a view from industrial ecology, we found that processing information  requires certain energy and material consumptions, but it also contributes a reduction of materials and energy.

6 thoughts on “Materials, Energy, Information Project

  1. Masato R. Nakamura, Eng.Sc.D. Post author

    Carl Sagan introduced the information to Kardashev scale.

    Information Mastery (Carl Sagan): Alternatively, Carl Sagan suggested adding another dimension in addition to pure energy usage: the information available to the civilization.
    He assigned the letter A to represent 106 unique bits of information (less than any recorded human culture) and each successive letter to represent an order of magnitude increase, so that a level Z civilization would have 1031 bits.
    In this classification, 1973 Earth is a 0.7 H civilization, with access to 1013 bits of information.
    Sagan believed that no civilization has yet reached level Z, conjecturing that so much unique information would exceed that of all the intelligent species in a galactic supercluster and observing that the universe is not old enough to exchange information effectively over larger distances.
    The information and energy axes are not strictly interdependent, so that even a level Z civilization would not need to be Kardashev Type Ⅲ.[5]


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