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 of the extraction procedure, refining,
and exporting. Although this substance has some difficulties in
extracting, refining, and applying, there are still some companies that do so
and supply this type of bitumen for others. Good to know that high oil prices
in the years 2007 and 2008 pushed recent development and production.
However, the concerns about the environment raised, since the production of
oil and gas industries was 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 are 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 to 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.
Therefore, according to the above-mentioned points, Gilsonite or
natural bitumen, and asphalt are highly important and have many applications
in different industries. Historically speaking, they have performed
many developments and procedures on this substance, for a long time,
this material became critical in the world’s industries.
Differences between asphalt & bitumen
As the last point, bitumen is a liquid binder that holds asphalt together. While, they produce Asphalt in a plant, that heat, dries, and mixes aggregate,
bitumen, and sand into a composite mix. Although they are similar to each
other, they have some differences. Moreover, bitumen has various grades
such as penetrations, viscosity, emulsions, cutbacks, and performance. While asphalt does not have that many subcategories and variety. Besides, bitumen
has a wider application than asphalt. That is why the demands and the
export rate of this material are high in the global market.