Although bitumen has several uses, over 90% of demand is met by its usage in the direct building and maintenance of roads or through the use of asphalt. Bitumen emulsions, cutback bitumen, and paving grades are important bitumen varieties for use in road applications. Paints, sealants, adhesives, enamels, waterproofing, electrical goods, flooring materials, back carpet tiles, land and marine pipe coatings, and countless more non-road applications employ hard, oxidized, and blown grades as well as mastic asphalt. Recently developed polymer-modified bitumen (PMB) is finding increasing use in both paving and non-road applications. Road paving is the main use of bitumen, even if there are many non-road applications and they only use minor amounts. Therefore, infrastructure cuts have had a huge influence on the world’s demand for bitumen.
Types of Bitumen
Some common types of bitumen include:
- Penetration grade bitumen: This is a traditional type of bitumen that is obtained by the penetration of a sample of bitumen at a specific temperature and then measuring the depth of penetration.
- Performance grade (PG) bitumen: This type of bitumen is graded based on its performance at different temperatures. The grades are identified by a two-digit number, with the first digit indicating the low-temperature performance and the second digit indicating the high-temperature performance.
- Cutback bitumen: This type of bitumen is made by dissolving bitumen in a solvent. It is used as a binder in road construction and is particularly useful in cold weather.
- Emulsified bitumen: This type of bitumen is made by suspending droplets of bitumen in water. It is used as a binder in road construction and is particularly useful in hot weather.
- Polymer modified bitumen (PMB): This type of bitumen is made by adding polymers to bitumen to improve its performance. PMB is more resistant to rutting and fatigue cracking, and it has a higher softening point than regular bitumen.