What is Bitumen?

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What is Bitumen? Blog Image


The Goa Power Minister recently said that bitumen used in road construction is a major cause of pollution.

About Bitumen:

  • It is a dense, highly viscous, petroleum-based hydrocarbon.
  • It is found in deposits such as oil sands and pitch lakes (natural bitumen) or is obtained as a residue of the distillation of crude oil
  • At the temperatures normally encountered in natural deposits, bitumen will not flow. In order to be moved through a pipe, it must be heated and, in some cases, diluted with a lighter oil.
  • Bitumen can deform permanently under heavy loads. Continued stress on the material can result in cracking.
  • Composition:
    • It owes its density and viscosity to its chemical composition—mainly large hydrocarbon molecules known as asphaltenes and resins, which are present in lighter oils but are highly concentrated in bitumen. 
    • In addition, bitumen frequently has a high content of metals, such as nickel and vanadium, and nonmetallic inorganic elements, such as nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. 
  • Uses:
    • Bitumen is known for its waterproofing and adhesive properties and is commonly used in the construction industry, notably for roads and highways.
    • It is commonly used to waterproof boats and other marine vessels.
    • It is also used by companies that create and manufacture roofing products.
    • It is used for sealing and insulating purposes in various building materials such as carpet tile backing and paint.


Q1) What are asphaltenes?

Asphaltenes are defined as the nonpolar and nonvolatile components of crude oil. They are insoluble in alkanes (normal pentane and normal heptane) but soluble in aromatics (benzene and toluene).

Source: Bitumen used in road construction major cause of pollution: Goa minister