Food Waste Digestate-Based Biorefinery Approach for Rhamnolipids Production: A Techno-Economic Analysis

Raffel Dharma Patria, Jonathan W. C. Wong, Davidraj Johnravindar, Kristiadi Uisan, Rajat Kumar, Guneet Kaur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The present work evaluates the techno-economic feasibility of a rhamnolipids production process that utilizes digestate from anaerobic digestion (AD) of food waste. Technical feasibility, profitability and extent of investment risks between fermenter scale and its operating strategy for rhamnolipids production was investigated in the present study. Three scenarios were generated and compared: production using a single large fermenter (Scenario I), using two small fermenters operated alternately (Scenario II) or simultaneously (Scenario III). It was found that all the scenarios were economically feasible, and Scenario III was the most profitable since it allowed the most optimum fermenter operation with utilization of multiple small-scale equipment to reduce the downtime of each equipment and increase the production capacity and overall productivity. It had the highest net present value, internal rate of return and shortest payback time at a discount rate of 7%. Finally, a sensitivity analysis was conducted to indicate how the variation in factors such as feedstock (digestate) cost, rhamnolipids selling price, extractant recyclability and process capacity influenced the process economics. The work provides important insights on techno-economic performance of a food waste digestate valorization process which would be useful to guide its sustainable scale-up.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-253
Number of pages17
JournalSustainable Chemistry
Issue number2
Early online date8 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • rhamnolipids
  • food waste
  • anerobic digestate
  • techno-economic assessment
  • sensitivity analysis


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