Bitumen

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Bitumen'

A substance produced through the distillation of crude oil and known for its waterproofing and adhesive properties. Bitumen production through distillation removes lighter crude oil components, such as gasoline and diesel, leaving the “heavier” bitumen behind. It is often refined several times in order to improve its grade.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Bitumen'

In modern times bitumen is most likely to be manufactured from crude oil, but bitumen can be found in nature. Deposits of naturally occurring bitumen can be found at the bottom of ancient lakes, where prehistoric organisms have since decayed and have been subjected to heat and pressure.

Bitumen is generally for industry use. Early uses of bitumen involved its natural adhesive and waterproofing characteristics, but it was also used as a medicine. It was used to bind building materials together, as well as to line the bottoms of ships. Herodotus, a fifth century BC Greek historian, claimed that the walls of ancient Babylon were strengthened through the use of bitumen. The material was traded between ancient civilizations.

Bitumen is composed of complex hydrocarbons, and contains elements such as calcium, iron, sulfur, and oxygen. The quality of material and ease of production is dependent on the source and type of crude oil it is derived from.

The material is used most often in road paving, in which bitumen is called asphalt. Most roads in the United States is made of either bitumen, or a combination of bitumen and aggregates, such as concrete. Bitumen can be recycled, meaning that engineers replacing asphalt roads can reuse the material on other road projects. It is also used in the creation of roofing products due to its waterproofing qualities

Under heavy loads bitumen can be permanently deformed, depending on the composition of the asphalt mixture, the ambient temperature, and the amount of stress places on the material. Bitumen oxidizes, which can leave the asphalt brittle and result in it cracking. 

RELATED TERMS
  1. Christmas tree (oil and gas)

    A vertical assembly of mechanical elements used in oil exploration ...
  2. Oil Initially In Place - OIIP

    The amount of crude first estimated to be in a reservoir. Oil ...
  3. Normal Spoilage

    The deterioration of a firm's product line that is generally ...
  4. Boil The Ocean

    To undertake an impossible task or project or to make a task ...
  5. Oil Pollution Act Of 1990

    A law that caps civil liability for oil spills caused by tankers ...
  6. Oil Price to Natural Gas Ratio

    A mathematical ratio comparing the prices of crude oil and natural ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Which oil and gas stocks pay the highest dividends?

    Among the oil and gas companies that pay the highest dividends as of 2015 are Sandridge Permian Trust (PER), Whiting USA ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How much of the United States' energy is produced within the country?

    In 2014, the United States produced 87.1 quadrillion BTU, while it consumed 98.4 quadrillion BTU. This continues a trend ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Which countries are able to produce oil and gas the cheapest?

    It is difficult to estimate and compare oil extraction costs across the globe because of uneven regulation and subsidies ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What metrics can be used to evaluate companies in the oil and gas sector?

    Oil and gas sector analysts use a variety of metrics to evaluate and compare individual companies’ performance. There are ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is Western Canada Select and how does it impact Canadian oil producers?

    Western Canada Select (WCS) is an enormous heavy oil stream in western Canada that also serves as an important benchmark ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does a barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) refer to in the oil and gas sector?

    A barrel of oil equivalent, or BOE, is a term used in the oil and gas sector to describe the amount of energy found in one ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Home & Auto

    The Getty Oil Takeover Fiasco

    It was the largest takeover in history and one of the most dramatic. Learn all about the fate of Getty Oil.
  2. Forex Strategies

    Canada's Commodity Currency: Oil And The Loonie

    When the price of oil goes up, don't worry about how much gas is going to cost - get even by making a play on the Canadian dollar.
  3. Fundamental Analysis

    5 Biggest Risks Faced By Oil And Gas Companies

    Before investing in gas and oil stocks, consider such factors as political and geological risks.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    A Natural Gas Primer

    Learn why natural gas is playing a larger role in the energy industry.
  5. Investing

    5 Common Trading Multiples Used In Oil And Gas Valuation

    Before you decide to invest in oil and gas, you should understand these multiples.
  6. Forex Education

    Natural Gas Industry: An Investment Guide

    Investors looking into this industry are faced with a confusing amount of information. We explain the important concepts and terms.
  7. Budgeting

    Understanding Oil Industry Terminology

    The drillers are just one aspect of the oil & gas industry, and by knowing some details of their role, you'll be better suited to make investment decisions.
  8. Active Trading

    Oil As An Asset: Hotelling's Theory On Price

    Not sure where oil prices are headed? This theory provides some insight.
  9. Active Trading

    How Does Crude Oil Affect Gas Prices?

    Find out how this commodity's fluctuating price affects more than just how much you pay at the pump.
  10. Economics

    Meet OPEC, Manager Of Oil Wealth

    This organization's decisions can influence oil prices, but there is a limit to its power.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Fracking

    A slang term for hydraulic fracturing. Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations ...
  2. Mixed Economic System

    An economic system that features characteristics of both capitalism and socialism.
  3. Net Worth

    The amount by which assets exceed liabilities. Net worth is a concept applicable to individuals and businesses as a key measure ...
  4. Stop-Loss Order

    An order placed with a broker to sell a security when it reaches a certain price. A stop-loss order is designed to limit ...
  5. Covered Call

    An options strategy whereby an investor holds a long position in an asset and writes (sells) call options on that same asset ...
  6. Butterfly Spread

    A neutral option strategy combining bull and bear spreads. Butterfly spreads use four option contracts with the same expiration ...
Trading Center