There are different types of bitumen with different properties and applications. The common feature of bitumen is its diverse applications in various industries. The main application of bitumen in any industry is its use as a moisture insulator. In fact, the common feature of each bitumen type is its high resistance against moisture and corrosion resulting from it and can properly prevent moisture from penetrating its lower surfaces. In this article, we want to generally introduce the types of bitumen, its features, and applications.
In a general classification, bitumen is divided into two categories: natural bitumen and petroleum. Natural bitumen is referred to those materials that are readily extracted from bitumen mines, and in this article, we will examine them. Petroleum is also referred to those types of material which are produced in refineries during the oil refining process.
Types of natural bitumen
Natural bitumen also have a more detailed classification. Generally, the bitumen extraction sites can cause variations in their type and application. However, these materials also differ in structure and application.
Glycinate should be considered as the first type of natural or mineral bitumen. Scientifically, glycinate is a natural hydrocarbon resin. This material is also known as natural asphalt because of its structure and form, as well as its application.
Glycinates may also be known as a pressure-tight crude sheet. The outcome of a glycinate mine is black, shiny and crisp material. Glycinate can be also considered as the purest type of natural or mineral bitumen.
It is usually found beneath the earth surface and in its vertical layers. It is interesting to know that only a handful of glycinate mines have been discovered in a few countries. The first glycinate mine was discovered at the northeast of the US in the state of Utah along the Bonita River.
After the discovery of this valuable mineral material, several mines have been discovered in other countries, including Canada, Iraq, Russia, Venezuela, Australia, and Iran. In Iran, glycinate mines have been discovered and are being extracted in western and southwestern cities, including Ilam, Kermanshah, and Khuzestan.
Bitumen stones are the second most common type of bitumen in nature. The bitumen stones are formed by a long process of crude oil infiltration into calcareous and sandy beds. This has been influenced, over many years, by the volatiles which eventually has formed the rocks structures in which certain concentration of bitumen can be found. Naturally, the higher the concentration, the more valuable it is to extract.
Bitumen stones usually have between 7 and 80 percent purity, depending on the amount of crude oil in the calcareous and sandstones.
The third type of bitumen is known as lake bitumen. Lake bitumen is a type of material which resembles a lake filled with bitumen.
The process of forming the lake bitumen begins by breaking and cracking the layers of the earth. These failures in some places cause the crude oil to gradually penetrate the upper layers of the earth; and as the volatiles in the crude oil evaporates, the bitumen is being formed on its way to the surface and emerges as a spring from the earth surface.
Lake bitumen mines are limited in the world. Trinidad’s bitumen lake is the most important and the largest source of this type of bitumen. In addition, there are the Bermuda Lake in Venezuela and the Lake Behbahan in Iran.