• Mon / 3 August 2020 / 13:35
  • Category: Economy
  • News Code: 99051309580
  • Journalist : 99999

How is Bitumen Manufactured?

How is Bitumen Manufactured?

Tehran (ISNA) - The importance of bitumen in our world is growing. Currently, this principal product has more than 250 applications and meets the demands of different industries in terms of waterproofing, sealing, and insulating. More importantly, bitumen is a crucial component of the asphalt in road construction.

It is estimated that the current world’s use of bitumen is approximately 102 million tons per year. About 85% of all bitumen around the world is used in the asphalt pavements in roads, airports, parking lots, etc. Bitumen is also used in the construction and manufacturing sectors (10%), water pipes coating, water proofing and sealing materials.

The majority of bitumen across the world is produced by the distillation of crude oil. Another major source of bitumen in the world is natural deposits of bitumen formed more than 360 million years ago. These ancient sources of natural bitumen are now located in various countries, including Canada, Venezuela, and Oman.

Based on the source, bitumen’s physical properties such as consistency, stiffness, viscosity, adhesion, and durability may differ. Therefore, it is crucial to become more familiar with bitumen’s occurrence in nature and bitumen as a byproduct of crude oil.  In the below video you will find all the details about bitumen production:

In the first part of this video, natural sources of bitumen and their formation within years are explained. Approximately 360 million years ago, in the Carboniferous period, giant swamp forests dominated many parts of the Earth.

Many dead plants and microscopic organism accumulated in the peat beds. With their gradual transformation under heat and pressure over many years, the condition for fossil fuels’ formation became possible. These conditions include high pressure, lack of oxygen, all of which cause the fermentation and chemical change of organic molecules, resulting in the transformation of accumulated creatures to kerogen, oil, and bitumen.

Large natural reservoirs of bitumen exist in many parts of the world, particularly Canada, Venezuela, and Oman. Known also as oil sands, the deposits are now a mixture of sand, clay, and water, saturated with dense and extremely viscous bitumen.

Most of the bitumen produced in the world is derived from crude oil, mainly because the extraction of natural bitumen is more complicated than refining bitumen. It is also interesting to know that natural bitumen contains up to 5% sulfur, heavy metals, and other impurities that must be refined. This means the manufacturing process of natural bitumen is not cost effective, in comparison to refined bitumen.

How is Natural Bitumen Extracted?

The technique used for extracting natural bitumen or oil sands depends on the depth of the deposit. In Canada some deposits of natural bitumen are shallow enough for surface mining. However, the majority of Canadian oil sands and all of Venezuela's oil sands are too far below the surface to use surface mining. In this situation, bitumen is extracted by injecting steam into the oil sands deposits. Called also as IN-SITU, this method helps with a reduction of bitumen’s viscosity. Afterwards, a mixture of bitumen and water is pumped to the surface, where the water is recovered and recycled.

How Bitumen is manufactured in the Petroleum Industry?

Other manufacturers of bitumen across the world, such as Iran, UAE, Singapore, and Russia produce bitumen by distillation of crude oil. The process of separating bitumen from crude oil begins in the atmospheric distillation column. By heating crude oil in the column, the lighter, low boiling point fractions will be separated from high molecular weight parts. Petroleum derivatives such as fuel oils, Naphtha, Diesel, and petrol are manufactured in the distillation column. Find a comprehensive infographic of distillation column and various products coming out of the column here.

The heaviest part of the oil that remains at the bottom of the distillation column, is called Vacuum Bottom, and forms the raw material for producing refined bitumen. Properties and quality of bitumen depends mainly on the crude oil used in its manufacturing process.

Bitumen can be further processed by blowing air through it at elevated temperatures. For this, the Vacuum Bottom is transferred to the vacuum distillation column, to go through a blowing process. A mild degree of air-blowing is commonly used to make minor adjustment to the physical properties of vacuum bottom, such as decreasing the penetration of the bitumen. In this stage, various types of bitumen which have more asphaltene and molecular weight, with higher penetration value are produced. For various types of bitumen visit here.

Production of Bitumen by refining crude oil is highly economical. In the distillation process of crude oil, which is essential for producing petrol, diesel, high octane fuels, and gasoline, bitumen is left behind and can be used easily after processing.

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