Natural bitumen is one of the important substances in the petrochemical industry. It is a natural sticky hydrocarbon that exists in mines in some countries.
People also know the natural bitumen as Gilsonite, however, it has different names in each country.
This substance is essential for Ink, Asphalt, Paint & Stains, coating, road construction, and Oil & Gas industries.
Gilsonite is one of the main substances in many industries that can produce about 160 products. It is a shiny, black substance that can easily change to powder.
Natural bitumen has an approximate high viscosity, high density (low API gravity), and high amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. These features of Gilsonite, cause more costs in extraction procedure, refining, and exporting.
Although this substance has some difficulties in extracting, refining, and applying, there are still
some companies who tend to do so, and supply this type of bitumen for others. Good to know
that high oil prices in the years 2007 and 2008 pushed new development and production.
However, the concerns about the environment raised, since the production of oil and gas industries were about to increase. Chemically speaking, bitumen and extra-heavy oil resemble the residuum that refinery has generated from the distillation of the light oil.
What is the history of Asphalt and natural bitumen?
The story of asphalt begins thousands of years before the founding of the United States. Asphalt exists naturally in both asphalt lakes and rock asphalt (a mixture of sand, and asphalt). 625 B.C. was the first time when people applied asphalt and natural bitumen for road constructions.
The ancient Greeks were also familiar with them. In fact, the word asphalt means “secure ” and is a Greek word.
On the other hand, the Romans used it to seal their baths, reservoirs, and channels.
In 1956, after many developments and progress in the industries, constructors needed more significant and better equipment. Therefore, innovations since then include electronic leveling controls, extra-wide finishers for paving two lanes at once, and vibratory steel-wheel rollers improved.
So, according to the above-mentioned points, Gilsonite or natural bitumen, and asphalt are highly important and has many applications in different industries. Historically speaking, many developments and procedures have been performed on this substance, consequently, through a long time, this material became critical in the world’s industries.
Differences between asphalt & bitumen
As a final point, bitumen is a liquid binder that holds asphalt together. While, Asphalt is produced in a plant that heats, dries, and mixes aggregate, bitumen, and sand into a composite mix. They are somehow similar to each other.