10 Difference Asphalt And Bitumen

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What Is Asphalt?

Asphalt is a sticky, black, highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It can also be described as a mixture of aggregates, binder and filler, used for constructing and maintaining roads, parking areas, railway tracks, ports, airport runways, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and also play- and sport areas.

Aggregates used for asphalt mixtures could be crushed rock, sand, gravel or slags. Nowadays, certain waste and by-products, such as construction and demolition debris, are being used as aggregates, which increases the sustainability of asphalt.

The principal application of asphalt is in road surfacing, which may be done in a variety of ways. Light oil “dust layer” treatments may be built up by repetition to form a hard surface, or a granular aggregate may be added to an asphalt coat, or earth materials from the road surface itself may be mixed with the asphalt.

Other important applications include canal and reservoir linings, dam facings, and other harbour and sea works; asphalt so used may be a thin, sprayed membrane, covered with earth for protection against weathering and mechanical damage, or thicker surfaces, often including riprap (crushed rock). Asphalt is also used for roofs, coatings, floor tilings, soundproofing, waterproofing, and other building-construction elements and in a number of industrial products, such as batteries. 

What You Need To Know About Asphalt

  • Asphalt is black or brown petroleum-like material that has a consistency varying from viscous liquid to glassy solid.
  • Asphalt is like concrete which is made from mixer of bitumen, aggregate and sand.
  • Asphalt pavements are durable; with a layer depth of 25-40 mm and life span of 20+ years.
  • Surface made of asphalt is smoother and more skid-resistant, ensuring the driver’s safety and minimal noise.
  • Reduced friction between tire and car; meaning better fuel economy and minimization of carbon dioxide emission.
  • Asphalt is an impermeable material, thus the pavements do not leach. Therefore, they have a lesser chance of infiltrating and polluting the groundwater.
  • Less sensitive to temperature compared to bitumen pavements. Negative impacts are seen only in extremely high or low temperature.
  • Installation is comparatively costlier.
  • An asphalt surface doesn’t require regular maintenance like bitumen surface, rather a routine check periodically is enough.

What is Bitumen?

Bitumen is a dense, highly viscous, petroleum-based hydrocarbon that is found in deposits such as oil sands and pitch lakes (natural bitumen) or is obtained as a residue of the distillation of crude oil (refined bitumen).

 The majority of bitumen across the world is produced by the distillation of crude oil. Bitumen production through distillation removes lighter crude oil components, such as gasoline and diesel, leaving the “heavier” bitumen behind. The producer often refines it several times to improve its grade.

Bitumen can also occur in nature: Deposits of naturally occurring bitumen form at the bottom of ancient lakes, where prehistoric organisms have since decayed and have been subjected to heat and pressure.

Bitumen has a number of applications but its use for construction and maintenance of roads either directly or through asphalt accounts for nearly 90% of all demand. Key bitumen types for road applications including paving grades, cutback bitumen, and bitumen emulsions. Hard, oxidized, and blown grades and mastic asphalt are used for paints, sealants, adhesives, enamels, waterproofing, electrical products, flooring materials, back carpet tiles, land and marine pipe coatings and numerous other non-road applications.

Polymer-modified bitumen (PMB) is a recent innovation that is finding growing application in both paving and non-road applications. Although there are numerous non-road applications for bitumen, they consume small volumes and road paving is the primary application. As a result, infrastructure cuts have significantly impacted global bitumen demand.

What You Need To Know About Bitumen

  • Bitumen is produced by distillation removes lighter crude oil components, such as gasoline and diesel.
  • Bitumen is like cement which works as binding material in road construction.
  • Bitumen pavements are less durable; with a layer depth of 10-20 mm and lifespan of 5-10 years.
  • The loose fragments on bitumen pavements make the driving experience noisier and can wear down tires, consequently causing safety issues.
  • Higher frictional resistance of a bitumen pavement means less efficiency in energy utilization.
  • Reduced friction between tire and car; meaning better fuel economy and minimization of carbon dioxide emission.
  • Exposure to bitumen leaching may cause deterioration of soil and groundwater quality.
  • Pavements are susceptible to high temperature, which can make it slick and soft.
  • Cheap to install compared to asphalt.
  • They require regular maintenance, especially when resurfacing a pavement with greater traffic volume. So not cost effective in the long run.

Difference Asphalt And Bitumen In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON ASPHALT BITUMEN
Production Asphalt is black or brown petroleum-like material that has a consistency varying from viscous liquid to glassy solid.   Bitumen is a dense, highly viscous, petroleum-based hydrocarbon that is found in deposits such as oil sands and pitch lakes (natural bitumen) or is obtained as a residue of the distillation of crude oil (refined bitumen).
Nature Asphalt is like concrete which is made from mixer of bitumen, aggregate and sand.   Bitumen is like cement which works as binding material in road construction.  
Durability Asphalt pavements are durable; with a layer depth of 25-40 mm and life span of 20+ years.   Bitumen pavements are less durable; with a layer depth of 10-20 mm and lifespan of 5-10 years.
Surface Surface made of asphalt is smoother and more skid-resistant, ensuring the driver’s safety and minimal noise.   The loose fragments on bitumen pavements make the driving experience noisier and can wear down tires, consequently causing safety issues.  
Friction Reduced friction between tire and car; meaning better fuel economy and minimization of carbon dioxide emission.   Higher frictional resistance of a bitumen pavement means less efficiency in energy utilization.  
Reduced Friction Reduced friction between tire and car; meaning better fuel economy and minimization of carbon dioxide emission.   Reduced friction between tire and car; meaning better fuel economy and minimization of carbon dioxide emission.  
Leaching Asphalt is an impermeable material, thus the pavements do not leach. Therefore, they have a lesser chance of infiltrating and polluting the groundwater. Exposure to bitumen leaching may cause deterioration of soil and groundwater quality.  
Pavements Less sensitive to temperature compared to bitumen pavements. Negative impacts are seen only in extremely high or low temperature.   Pavements are susceptible to high temperature, which can make it slick and soft.  
Installation Installation is comparatively costlier.   Cheap to install compared to asphalt.  
Maintenance An asphalt surface doesn’t require regular maintenance like bitumen surface, rather a routine check periodically is enough.   They require regular maintenance, especially when resurfacing a pavement with greater traffic volume. So not cost effective in the long run.  

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