Bitumen Emulsion

Bitumen Emulsions have being developed and exponentially increased since they were created in 1900. Estimated presently at 20% of the global bitumen use, bitumen emulsions are basically an O/W – Oil on Water solution – A dispersion of bitumen particles on water, stabilized with the addition of surfactants – Surface active agents – or most commonly known as emulsifiers, that will permit the bitumen to be diluted in water. They are primarily used for tack coats between hot mix asphalt layers and prime coats for thin hot mix surfacing layers or a chip seal pavements. Bitumen emulsions are divided into three categories: • Anionic with negatively charged globules • Cationic with positively charged globules • Non-ionic with neutral globules. The main grades for bitumen emulsions are classified as follows: Anionic Emulsion Code Cationic Emulsion Code Setting Type ARS CRS Rapid Setting AMS CMS Medium Setting ASS CSS Slow Setting Bitumen Emulsion is an area where technological progress is still being made to meet the requirements of pavement engineering. Anionic emulsions were first developed. They are currently less favored than the cationic emulsions, as cationic emulsions coat the aggregates more efficiently due to their positive load and have therefore better adhesion properties. Cationic Emulsion is both more favored and more widely used. Emulsified Bitumen usually consists of bitumen droplets suspended in water. This dispersion under normal circumstances would not take place, since everyone knows that oil and water don’t mix, but if an emulsifying agent is added to the water the asphalt will remain dispersed. Most emulsion are used for surface treatments. Emulsions enable much lower application temperatures to be used. Application temperatures range from 45°C to 70°C. This is much lower than the 150 to 190°C used for hot mix asphalt cements. The lower application temperatures will not damage the asphalt and are much safer for field personnel. In the production of bitumen emulsion, water is treated with an emulsifying agent and other chemicals and is pumped to a colloid mill along with bitumen. The colloid mill breaks the bitumen up into tiny droplets. The emulsifying agent migrates to the asphalt-water interface and keeps the droplets from coalescing. The emulsion is then pumped to a storage tank.
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