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What is bitumen, And what are its sources?

history of bitumen

Bitumen is a black or dark brown solid substance with unique properties. It is soluble in carbon disulfide and tetrachlorocarbon. At room temperature, bitumen exists in a solid state, but as the temperature rises, it transitions into a paste-like consistency and eventually becomes a liquid. One of its notable characteristics is its impermeability to water and strong adhesion, which contribute to its wide range of applications.

Pure bitumen can be obtained from oil or specific minerals. Depending on the source of extraction, bitumen is categorized into different types. However, pure bitumen requires additional processes to make it usable. These processes can transform bitumen into various forms such as blown bitumen, soluble bitumen, non-emulsion bitumen, polymer bitumen, and more.

The History and Types of Bitumen

The history of bitumen usage

In the early days of the bitumen industry, bitumen was applied in powdered form on road surfaces, proving to be a successful technique. Over time, heated powder was used, making road asphalting easier. As technology advanced, the application of bitumen expanded to road construction, flooring, roofing, underground pipes, isogam construction, canal and bridge building, and painting.

Introduction to the types of bitumen

There are several types of bitumen, each with its own characteristics and production methods. Let's briefly explain the different types:

  1. Petroleum and natural bitumen:

Petroleum and natural bitumen are typically obtained through the distillation process of crude oil and various minerals. The distillation tower separates the product in two stages, with heavy compounds and kerosene removed under close-to-atmospheric pressure. The remaining mixture consists of fine particles that solidify and become a grease-like substance. Natural bitumen, on the other hand, is formed over long periods of time through the conversion of crude oil. Examples of natural bitumen include Iran's Behbahan Bitumen Lake and Trinidad Bitumen Lake in America.

  1. Blown bitumen:

Blown bitumen is produced by blowing hot air into pipes. The high-temperature air, ranging from 200 to 300 degrees Celsius, combines hydrogen and oxygen atoms, creating water. Blown bitumen has a lower penetration degree compared to other types and exhibits less sensitivity to temperature changes. The abbreviation for blown bitumen is represented by the letter "R."

  1. Mixed or soluble bitumen:

Mixed or soluble bitumen becomes liquid at high temperatures. The hardening time and speed depend on the type of solvent added to the bitumen. For example, bitumen mixed with gasoline hardens faster due to the high evaporation rate of gasoline, while bitumen mixed with oil hardens more slowly due to the low evaporation rate of oil.

  1. Bitumen emulsion:

Bitumen emulsion is made by mixing an emulsion material with water. The emulsion material is typically a small percentage, approximately 3-5% of the bitumen weight. The maximum amount of bitumen used in emulsion is usually 30 to 50% of the total weight. Emulsifiers, such as ammonium salts, organic acids, or alkalis, are added to charge the bitumen particles.

Bitumen emulsion offers various benefits, including reduced environmental pollution. It is also used in cold asphalt applications in wet environments and for insulation purposes.

Penetration bitumen grades are classified based on their penetration value, which measures the hardness and consistency of the bitumen. The penetration value indicates the depth in tenths of a millimeter to which a standard needle penetrates the bitumen sample under specific conditions. The lower the penetration value, the harder and more resistant the bitumen. Here are some commonly used penetration bitumen grades:

  1. Bitumen 40/50: This grade has a penetration value between 40 and 50 dmm (0.1 mm). It is commonly used for road construction, particularly in areas with moderate traffic loads and moderate climatic conditions.
  2. Bitumen 60/70: This grade has a penetration value between 60 and 70 dmm (0.1 mm). It is widely used in road construction for various applications, including asphalt pavements, surface dressings, and bituminous binders.
  3. Bitumen 80/100: This grade has a penetration value between 80 and 100 dmm (0.1 mm). It is commonly used in road construction for heavy-duty pavements, as well as for bituminous mixtures, such as wearing courses and base courses.
  4. Bitumen 100/120: This grade has a penetration value between 100 and 120 dmm (0.1 mm). It is used in road construction for specialized applications that require higher stiffness and resistance to deformation.
  5. Bitumen 160/220: This grade has a penetration value between 160 and 220 dmm (0.1 mm). It is typically used in industrial applications, including roofing, waterproofing, and insulation.

It's important to note that the specific penetration grades and their corresponding properties may vary depending on the regional or international standards, as different countries may have their own grading systems.

Some notable features of bitumen emulsion

  1. Suitable for low-thickness asphalt: Bitumen emulsion can be effectively used in applications requiring thin asphalt layers.
  2. No heating required during storage and initial start-up: Unlike other forms of bitumen, emulsion bitumen does not require heating during storage or when initiating its use.
  3. Good permeability due to fluidity: The fluid nature of bitumen emulsion allows for excellent permeability, enhancing its performance in various applications.
  4. Free of toxic substances: Emulsion bitumen is free from any toxic substances, making it environmentally friendly and safe to handle.
  5. Non-flammable during execution: Emulsion bitumen does not catch fire during application, ensuring a safer working environment.
  6. Simple setup and implementation: Emulsion bitumen can be set up and implemented without the need for complex tools and machinery, simplifying the process.
  7. Rapid color change and quick readiness for traffic: After the breaking process, emulsion bitumen changes color from brown to black, indicating its readiness for traffic in a short period.

Technical and qualitative specifications of different types of bitumen

Degree of penetration: The penetration value in millimeters indicates the hardness and quality of bitumen. Lower penetration values correlate with higher quality and increased resistance.

Viscosity: The fluidity of bitumen can be determined using devices like the Cbolt Fiorel. It is worth noting that the fluidity of bitumen decreases at higher temperatures.

By understanding the characteristics and technical specifications of bitumen, one can assess its quality, ensure its longevity, and make informed decisions regarding its application.

Degree of Ignition

The temperature at which bitumen can withstand in the workshop without igniting is referred to as the ignition degree.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is an important and fundamental characteristic of bitumen. It is typically measured at a temperature of 163 degrees Celsius over a period of 5 hours, which corresponds to the asphalt curing temperature.

Other Bitumen Characteristics

In addition to the mentioned properties, bitumen also exhibits characteristics such as malleability, purity level, and softness.

Factors Affecting Bitumen Quality Grading

Solid bitumens are graded based on several factors, including permeability, oxidation resistance, viscosity, and overall performance. For instance, bitumens obtained through crude oil distillation tend to be softer and of higher quality compared to bitumens containing various metallic components with aeration.

Applications of Bitumen in Various Fields

Bitumen finds application in several areas, including:

  1. Road Construction: Bitumen is extensively used in the construction and surfacing of roads.
  2. Industrial Applications: Bitumen serves various purposes in industrial settings.
  3. Waterproofing of Commercial and Residential Buildings: Bitumen is utilized for waterproofing structures, ensuring protection against moisture.
  4. Electrical Insulation: Bitumen is employed as an electrical insulator in certain applications.

It's important to note that the primary use of bitumen is in road construction, with subsequent applications in moisture insulation, such as in the form of Izogam, for under-construction insulation.

Approximately 90% of bitumen is allocated for road construction, while the remaining 10% is utilized for other purposes.

Application of Bitumen in Insulation Work

Bitumen finds significant use in insulation applications for various parts of a building, including the roof and bathroom floor. It is often recommended to use bitumen in its pure form to ensure the stability and longevity of the insulation work. The phrase "it is better to use bitumen in a bitumen form" emphasizes the importance of using bitumen together with a reinforcement material, such as a membrane or fabric, during the installation of insulation. This practice helps strengthen the infrastructure and prevents the need for immediate repairs shortly after the installation of the insulation. By combining bitumen with a reinforcement material, the stability and durability of the insulation work are enhanced.

ATDM CO is a reputable manufacturer and exporter specializing in Bitumen 60/70. We offer a diverse range of high-quality grades tailored to meet various customer demands. Our Bitumen 60/70 is available in convenient packaging options, including drums, bags, and bulk quantities.

Our product line consists of three distinct quality grades: premium, second, and third types. Each grade is carefully manufactured and undergoes rigorous quality control processes. We understand that different customers have unique requirements and volume needs, which is why we provide a wide range of options to cater to various preferences.

At ATDM CO, we prioritize customer satisfaction and aim to deliver exceptional products that meet international standards. Whether you require smaller quantities or bulk orders, we have the capacity to accommodate your specific needs. Trust us to provide reliable and top-notch Bitumen 60/70 that exceeds expectations.

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