Production of volatile fatty acids from food waste and lignocellulosic materials has potential to avoid emissions from their production from petrochemicals and provide valuable feedstocks. Techno-economic and life cycle assessments of using food waste and grass to produce volatile fatty acids through anaerobic digestion have been conducted. Uncertainty and sensitivity analysis for both assessments were done to enable a robust forecast of key-aspects of the technology deployment at industrial scale. Results show low environmental impact of volatile fatty acid with food wastes being the most beneficial feedstock with global warming potential varying from −0.21 to 0.01 CO2 eq./kg of product. Food wastes had the greatest economic benefit with a breakeven selling price of 1.11–1.94 GBP/kg (1.22–2.33 USD) of volatile fatty acids in the product solution determined through sensitivity analysis. Anaerobic digestion of wastes is therefore a promising alternative to traditional volatile fatty acid production routes, providing economic and environmental benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129726
Number of pages11
JournalBioresource Technology
Early online date9 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) and United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) for providing necessary resources.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)


  • Consequential system
  • Mass balance preservation
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Technology learning curves
  • Uncertainty analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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