Immersion Heaters Critical To Bitumen Manufacture, Efficacy

Bitumen, commonly referred to as asphalt, has a variety of applications throughout several industries. In colder climates like Calgary Alberta or North Dakota, keeping bitumen warm is essential to maintaining its quality. Immersion heaters – electric heaters used to keep fluids and other materials warm – are essential to maintaining the efficacy of bitumen and in creating alternative forms of bitumen. As much of the infrastructure in the U.S. is aging and needs replacement, the production and quality of asphalt is of critical importance. Using best practices to make and maintain asphalt, including the use of high quality electric heaters to keep it ready for use, will ensure that the nation has the roads, bridges, runways and other infrastructure it needs. What Is Bitumen? Bitumen essentially is a sticky, liquid or semi-solid type of petroleum. It occurs naturally or can be refined from crude oil. More than 1.6 billion tons of bitumen are produced worldwide each year. Road infrastructure is the primary use of bitumen, as about 85 percent of all bitumen produced is used in paving and repairing roads. The U.S. and Europe are by far the largest consumers of bitumen. In Europe about 90 percent of all roads are paved with asphalt. In the U.S. about 92 percent of all roads use asphalt as pavement. Developing nations are stepping up their use of bitumen in infrastructure projects such as roads, parking lots, airport runways, etc. creating more demand for the substance. Naturally occurring bitumen derives from the remnants of tiny ancient algae and other biomaterial. When various organisms died many thousands of years ago, their remains accumulated in mud at the bottom of the ocean. Over time, heat and pressure converted these remnants into petroleum and bitumen. Bitumen made from crude oil is manufactured by pumping crude oil form storage tanks, where the crude oil has been kept at a temperature of 60°C. The crude oil goes to a heat exchanger system where its temperature is gradually increased to about 200°C and then heated in a furnace to about 300° C. This helps separate lighter components and heavier components of the crude. The lighter elements are then removed from the bitumen, leaving the heavier parts. Immersion Heaters and Bitumen Immersion heatersplay a vital role in the asphalt industry. These electric heaters help in the refining process of bitumen refined from crude oil and also help keep asphalt in liquid form while it is being stored. Electric immersion heaters also play a role in the application of asphalt to surfaces, helping it flow throw spraying devices. By heating bitumen, companies using the substance ensure it performs optimally. When bitumen is being used as adhesive, it works best if its exposure time to air prior to use is minimized, as too much exposure can cause it to harden and not work properly. Proper heating of bitumen is essential for quality control. Different grades of bitumen will require different temperatures. Managers in charge of storing and maintaining asphalt will need to be diligent in using the appropriate immersion heaters at the right settings to keep bitumen at the right temperature. It’s also very important to keep bitumen away from water, as it can cause the bitumen to foam. Bitumen is typically stored in special tanks manufactured to minimize heat loss, allowing more efficiency in keeping bitumen warm. There are three basic methods of heating bitumen in tanks, including: ·         Immersion-style flange heaters, which are made up of a number of metal-sheathed resistance heating elements that come in direct contact with the bitumen. In these tanks, the bitumen is heated and circulates by means of natural convection. ·         Circulation heaters which are filled with inlet and outlet connections. Forced convection effectuates the necessary heat transfer to the bitumen. ·         Pipe heaters, in which heating elements are enclosed in a pipe and are thus isolated from direct contact with the asphalt. Environmental concerns have led to alternative bitumen production methods, which makes the substance from non-petroleum sources such as molasses, rice, corn, sugar and potato starches. Asphalt makers can also produce bitumen from waste materials, such as used motor oils. One benefit of non-petroleum-based bitumen is that it can be made in a lighter color, allowing roads made from it to absorb less heat. This makes their surface heat lower than that of darker-hued roads, cutting into their contribution to urban heat island effects. Immersion heaters remain important to the process of making bioasphalt and keeping it at an optimum temperature to maintain its efficacy. Last Word As demand from developing nations and industrialized countries for asphalt grows, so will the need for quality electric heaters capable of maintaining product quality and of helping in the manufacturing process of bitumen. Companies making and using bitumen should carefully research their heating options to find products that are effective, durable and environmentally friendly. Dealing with established leaders in the immersion and electric heater industry will ensure that asphalt makers and users get the reliable equipment they need. Summary:Bitumen provides a key building material for roads and infrastructure – asphalt. Asphalt must be kept warm to be effective. Immersion heaters and electric heaters can help. Bio:Wattco ( manufactures electric heating products for industrial use for clients around the world. The company was established in 1972 and has a commitment to producing quality heating products and offering the lowest prices in the industry.