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Bitumen is also called asphalt. It is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch. Bitumens are mainly used for road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete.
Bitumen is an essential component of any pavement and is used widely throughout the world. It can be termed as the building block of the pavements without which all the pavement materials would behave independently and thus will be deemed useless.
There are different types of bitumen available with different properties, specifications and uses, based on requirements of the consuming industry. The bitumen can be classified into the following grade types:
The penetration grade bitumen is refinery bitumen that is manufactured at different viscosities. The penetration test is carried out to characterize the bitumen based on the hardness. Thus, it has the name penetration bitumen. The penetration bitumen grades range from 15 to 450 for road bitumen. But the most commonly used range is 25 to 200. This is acquired by controlling the test carried out i.e. the distillation process. The partial control of fluxing the residual bitumen with the oils can help in bringing the required hardness. Other tests used to classify the Bitumen for specification purpose include; solubility, flash point, softening point etc.
This oxidized bitumen is gotten after the refinery bitumen is further treated by the introduction of processed air. By maintaining a controlled temperature, the air is introduced under pressure into soft bitumen. Compounds of higher molecular weight are formed by the reaction of this introduced oxygen and bitumen components. Thus, the Asphaltenes and the Maltenes content increases resulting in a harder mix. This harder mix has a lower ductility and temperature susceptibility.
These grade of bitumen comes under penetration grade bitumen. They have a temporarily reduced viscosity due to the introduction of a volatile oil. Once after the application, the volatile material is evaporated and bitumen gain its original viscosity.
This type of bitumen forms a two-phase system with two immiscible liquids. One of them is dispersed as fine globules within the other liquid. When discrete globules of bitumen are dispersed in a continuous form of water, bitumen emulsion is formed.
This is a form of penetration grade bitumen that is mixed and used for laying purposes.
Polymer modified bitumen is the type of bitumen obtained by the modification of strength and the rheological properties of the penetration graded bitumen