Bitumen emulsion is heterogeneous, two-phase systems consisting of two immiscible liquids, bitumen and water, stabilized by a third component, the emulsifier. The bitumen is dispersed throughout the continuous aqueous phase in the form of discrete droplets, typically 0.5 to 5 microns in diameter, which are held in suspension by electrostatic charges. Bitumen emulsions can be divided into three classes of which the first two, in volume terms, is by far the most important:
- Cationic emulsions;
- Anionic emulsions;
- Nonionic emulsions;
Production Method of Bitumen Emulsion
Bitumen Emulsions have been developed and exponentially increased sinned they were created in 1900. Estimated presently at 20% of the global bitumen use, bitumen emulsions are basically an O/W – Oil on Water solution – A dispersion of bitumen particles on water, stabilized with the addition of surfactants – Surface active agents – or most commonly known as emulsifiers, that will permit the bitumen to be diluted in water. They are primarily used for tack coats for use in between hot mix asphalt layers and prime coats for thin hot mix surfacing layers or a chip seal pavements.
How are bitumen emulsions made?
Hot asphalt is mixed with a water and soap (emulsifier) in a high-speed mixer called a colloid mill. The combination of the soap and high shear breaks the asphalt up into small droplets, which remain dispersed in the water.
Advantages of using Bitumen Emulsion
- No need for the heating process when operating.
- No need for chemical solvents
- No risk of fire during storage, transportation, and implementation
- No risk of environmental contamination
- Bitumen emulsion applications produce no or minimal hydrocarbon emissions.
- Emulsification requires no petroleum solvents. (Some mixing grade emulsions may have small amounts of solvent to enhance mixing qualities.)
- Used at ambient temperatures, emulsions require no added heat for most applications and produce minimal fumes.
- Applicable in humid climates.
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