Bitumen Heating Texan Style

Bitumen Heating

In places like Houston Texas, bitumen is well known in the construction industry as tar or asphalt, a very important substance in paving the road or roofing. The key to heating bitumen is all about viscosity. It is very important to keep bitumen at certain temperature to remain viscous while the work is in progress. Bitumen heating is very tricky because it is usually very think and heavy. The heaters used for bitumen are usually those that are used for tank heating because bitumen is typically stored in bitumen tanks.

There are two types of bitumen that would determine how heating is applied and what type of heaters are used. The most common form of bitumen is the crude type, i.e. a tar-like petroleum that is sticky and naturally occurring. There is also the refined type, also known as residual, which is basically a left over fraction. While both types are think and heavy, the refined is the heaviest and has the highest boiling point.

What Type of Heaters?

The type of heaters used in bitumen heating will depend on how much of viscosity is required and how high the temperature must reach. The purpose of heating bitumen is mainly the performance factor. Each substance has different optimal point of temperature and viscidness. For example, refined bitumen can be obtained by fractional distillation of crude oil. It means the boiling point has to reach 525 degrees Celsius. In this scenario, the flanged heater using the most exotic alloy as its heating element can achieve that kind of temperature requirement.

Bitumen requires indirect heating like pipe heaters or flanged heaters. The bitumen tanks have to be properly insulated to minimize heat loss. Its heating tube is designed in W shape and has an automatic burner attached to it. The indirect heating tanks are equipped with a thermic oil heater with automatic thermostatic controls and level indicators. The types of heater used for bitumen tanks vary. Some use hot oil heaters while others use electric heaters. Thermal fluid heaters are also used as well as polymer blending systems.

Why heat Bitumen?

The question of what type can also relate with why to heat bitumen. The purpose of using bitumen is to optimize its adhesive property. In order to achieve best results, the bitumen must not be exposed to air for longer than the minimum time. Otherwise, it hardens and becomes difficult to work effectively.

In bitumen heating using circulation heaters, the temperature control become crucial. It cannot be heated excessively at the same time for the minimal exposure to air.  The WATTCO™ heaters are well equipped for the bitumen heating because their control boxes are carefully designed to maintain the temperature necessary for the optimal range for bitumen heating. WATTCO™ carries various flanged heaters that can be customized for creating ideal condition to keep bitumen tanks to maintain its viscosity.

In addition to heating bitumen, the best way to maintain viscosity of bitumen is in the construction of bitumen tank. The storage tank for bitumen is usually built out of mild steel plate in a large capacity. In order to maintain the fluidity, hot oil or steam may be pumped into the tank. However, a care must be given not to exceed the storage temperature throughout the mixing process.