Membrane separation operations are still seldom used in refining today. The potential applications of the different ultrafiltration, pervaporation and gaseous permeation technologies are described in the other section. Since selectivity is kinetic, a membrane separation module separates a mixture into products whose composition may be very far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Provided the membrane is sufficiently permeable and selective, a single module can achieve the desired separation. In practice, in the present state of the technology, membranes have proven to be ill suited to purification operations, at least in the case of homogeneous mixtures. In the main applications that are currently in use, they are combined with more conventional separation technologies based on a contact between phases.
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