A method and apparatus for converting waste gases from industrial processes such as oil refining, carbon black, coke, ammonia, and methanol production, into useful products. The method includes introducing the waste gases into a bioreactor where they are fermented to various organic acids or alcohols by anaerobic bacteria within the bioreactor. These valuable end products are then recovered, separated and purified. In an exemplary recovery process, the bioreactor raffinate is passed through an extraction chamber into which one or more non-inhibitory solvents are simultaneously introduced to extract the product. Then, the product is separated from the solvent by distillation. Gas conversion rates can be maximized by use of centrifuges, hollow fiber membranes, or other means of ultrafiltration to return entrained anaerobic bacteria from the bioreactor raffinate to the bioreactor itself, thus insuring the highest possible cell concentration.
BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTION OF ACETIC ACID FROM WASTE GASES
The U.S. Government has license rights in this invention pursuant to D.O.E. Cooperative Agreement No. DE-FC02-90CE40939 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.