Primarily used for road construction, flat roofing and as an adhesive, bitumen (asphalt) is a vital component of modern infrastructure. This flexible, hard-wearing product helps in the building and maintenance of road arteries in and between cities. Though safe and easy to use in construction projects, it presents particular challenges to the heat-exchange technology that is necessary to heat and cool it during processing. What are the potential pitfalls of handling bitumen, and what can be done to overcome them?
Bitumen is a black, viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation. Already a high viscosity product at hotter temperatures, as bitumen cools, the viscosity increases. This makes the cooling process rather than the heating stages of producing bitumen a greater challenge for heat exchangers.