Uses of Bitumen: Since Ages

If we look at all the chemicals that man uses for his daily living in the 20th century, we are likely to find that they are in the vast majority derived from one single substance - petroleum. This is certainly true in modern agriculture, in medicine, and in the textile industry - where both the dyes and the fibers themselves are synthetics made from various treatments of crude oil. Bitumen is one of them.

Bitumen is a generic term referring to flammable, brown or black mixtures of tar like hydrocarbons, derived naturally or by distillation from petroleum. It can be in the form of viscous oil to a brittle solid, including asphalt, tars, and natural mineral waxes. Substances containing bitumens are called bituminous. Another form of Bitumen, coal, was used as the primary energy source in the industrial revolution. In British English, 'bitumen' is often used interchangeably with both 'asphalt' and 'tar'. In American English, 'bitumen' is most commonly used in engineering jargon to explicitly include both asphalt - and tar-based materials. In Australian English, 'bitumen' is used as the generic term for road surfaces.

In the past, bitumen was used to waterproof boats, and even as a coating for buildings; it is possible, for example, that the city of Carthage was easily burnt down due to extensive use of bitumen in construction.

Bitumen is primarily used for paving roads. Its other uses are for the general waterproofing products, including the use of bitumen in the production of roofing felt and for sealing flat roofs. It is also the prime feed stock for petroleum production from tar sands currently under development in Alberta, Canada.

Many arguments has been given related to the formation of bitumen. As most geologists believe that naturally occurring deposits of bitumen are formed from the remains of ancient, microscopic algae and other once-living things. These organisms died and their remains were deposited in the mud on the bottom of the ocean or lake where they lived. Under the heat and pressure of burial deep in the earth, the remains were transformed into materials such as bitumen, kerogen, or petroleum.

A minority of geologists, proponents of the theory of abiogenic petroleum origin, believe that bitumen and other hydrocarbons heavier than methane originally derive from deep inside the mantle of the earth rather than biological detritus.

Thus, tar like substance extensively used for making roads is available in various specifications. For similar products please visit