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Bitumen is a thick, dark, and sticky substance that is extracted from crude oil. It is used in road construction to bind together stones and sand, and it also has waterproofing and adhesive properties. Bitumen has a low API gravity and high viscosity, which means that it is less dense than water and flows very slowly. It is made up of large hydrocarbon molecules called asphaltenes and resins.

Bitumen, a thick, dark, and adhesive petroleum residue, finds its primary application in road construction and waterproofing projects.

The following are the different types of bitumen:

  • Penetration Grade Bitumen: Penetration-grade bitumen, categorized according to its hardness and consistency, is determined by measuring the distance in tenths of a millimeter that a standard needle penetrates the bitumen under specific conditions. The penetration grade serves as an indication of the bitumen’s softness, with higher grades representing softer consistency. Examples include Penetration Grade 40/50, 60/70, 80/100, and 120/150. 
  • Performance Grade (PG) Bitumen: PG bitumen is categorized based on its performance properties at different temperatures, reflecting its ability to resist rutting and cracking. Examples include PG 58-28, PG 64-22, and PG 76-22. 
  • Viscosity-Grade Bitumen: This classification relies on the viscosity of bitumen at specific temperatures, determining its flow and workability. Examples include VG 10, VG 20, VG 30, and VG 40. 
  • Cutback Bitumen: Cutback bitumen is created by blending bitumen with a solvent to reduce viscosity for improved handling. The classification depends on the type of solvent used, such as SC (slow-curing), MC (medium-curing), and RC (rapid-curing) cutbacks. 
  • Polymer-Modified Bitumen (PMB): PMB is produced by combining bitumen with polymer additives to enhance elasticity, strength, and resistance to deformation. The classification is based on the type and percentage of polymer, such as SBS or APP modified bitumen. 
  • Emulsified Bitumen: Emulsified bitumen is a water-based mixture containing suspended bitumen droplets, stabilized by an emulsifying agent. It is commonly used in cold applications and can be classified based on factors like emulsion type, setting time, and viscosity.  

The classifications of bitumen provide valuable guidance in choosing the suitable type for diverse construction and industrial purposes. By considering these classifications, one can ensure that the chosen bitumen aligns with the necessary performance standards and temperature requirements of the specific application.