What Is Bitumen?
Bitumen, also known as asphalt in the United States, is a substance produced through the distillation of crude oil that is known for its waterproofing and adhesive properties. Bitumen production through distillation removes lighter crude oil components, such as gasoline and diesel, leaving the “heavier” bitumen behind. The producer often refines it several times to improve its grade.
Bitumen can also occur in nature: Deposits of naturally occurring bitumen form at the bottom of ancient lakes, where prehistoric organisms have since decayed and have been subjected to heat and pressure.
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- Bitumen, a substance known for its waterproofing and adhesive properties, can occur naturally or be formed through the distillation of crude oil.
- It is composed of complex hydrocarbons and contains elements such as calcium, iron, sulfur, and hydrogen.
- Bitumen prices are determined by the state of the global economy and supply and demand for crude oil.
- The world’s first bitumen futures contracts debuted on the Shanghai Futures Exchange in October 2013.
Bitumen is composed of complex hydrocarbons and contains elements such as calcium, iron, sulfur, and oxygen. The quality of material and ease of production depends on the source and type of crude oil it is derived from.
Bitumen is generally for industry use. The substance was first used for its natural adhesive and waterproofing characteristics, helping to bind building materials together, as well as to line the bottoms of ships. It has also been used in the past as a medicine.
Nowadays, the material is used most often in road paving. The majority of U.S. roads are made of either bitumen or a combination of bitumen and aggregates, such as concrete. A key benefit, other than its adhesive and waterproofing qualities, is that engineers replacing asphalt roads can reuse the material on other road projects. Bitumen is also commonly used by manufacturers in the creation of roofing products.