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 Articles
  1. The Getty Oil Takeover Fiasco
    Home & Auto

    The Getty Oil Takeover Fiasco

  2. Canada's Commodity Currency: Oil And ...
    Forex Strategies

    Canada's Commodity Currency: Oil And ...

  3. 5 Biggest Risks Faced By Oil And Gas ...
    Fundamental Analysis

    5 Biggest Risks Faced By Oil And Gas ...

  4. A Natural Gas Primer
    Fundamental Analysis

    A Natural Gas Primer

Hot Definitions
  1. Financing Entity

    The party in a financing arrangement that provides money, property, or another asset to an intermediate entity or financed ...
  2. Hyperinflation

    Extremely rapid or out of control inflation. There is no precise numerical definition to hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is ...
  3. Gross Rate Of Return

    The total rate of return on an investment before the deduction of any fees or expenses. The gross rate of return is quoted ...
  4. Debit Spread

    Two options with different market prices that an investor trades on the same underlying security. The higher priced option ...
  5. Leading Indicator

    A measurable economic factor that changes before the economy starts to follow a particular pattern or trend. Leading indicators ...
  6. Wage-Price Spiral

    A macroeconomic theory to explain the cause-and-effect relationship between rising wages and rising prices, or inflation. ...
Trading Center