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{{Redirect|Bitumen|naturally occurring bituminous sands used for petroleum production|Oil sands}}{{other uses}}{{hatnote|Note: The terms bitumen and asphalt are mostly interchangeable, except where asphalt is used as a shorthand for asphalt concrete.}}{{Use dmy dates|date=March 2014}}File:Bitumen.jpg|thumb|Natural bitumen from the Dead SeaDead Sea(File:Refined bitumen.JPG|thumb|Refined asphalt)File:University of Queensland Pitch drop experiment-white bg.jpg|thumb|upright|The University of Queensland pitch drop experiment, demonstrating the viscosityviscosityAsphalt, also known as bitumen ({{IPAc-en|uk|ˈ|b|ɪ|tj|ʊ|m|ɪ|n}}, {{IPAc-en|us|b|ɪ|ˈ|tj|uː|m|ə|n|,_|b|aɪ|-}}),EPD, 18, is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch. Before the 20th century, the term asphaltum was also used.BOOK, Herbert, Abraham, 1938, Asphalts and Allied Substances: Their Occurrence, Modes of Production, Uses in the Arts, and Methods of Testing, 4th, D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., New York,weblink 16 November 2009, Full text at Internet Archive ( The word is derived from the Ancient Greek ἄσφαλτος ásphaltos.The primary use (70%) of asphalt is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete. Its other main uses are for bituminous waterproofing products, including production of roofing felt and for sealing flat roofs.BOOK, 10.1002/14356007.a03_169.pub2, Asphalt and Bitumen, Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2009, Sörensen, Anja, Wichert, Bodo, 978-3527306732, The terms "asphalt" and "bitumen" are often used interchangeably to mean both natural and manufactured forms of the substance. In American English, "asphalt" (or "asphalt cement") is commonly used for a refined residue from the distillation process of selected crude oils. Outside the United States, the product is often called "bitumen", and geologists worldwide often prefer the term for the naturally occurring variety. Common colloquial usage often refers to various forms of asphalt as "tar", as in the name of the La Brea Tar Pits.Naturally occurring asphalt is sometimes specified by the term "crude bitumen". Its viscosity is similar to that of cold molassesWEB, Oil Sands – Glossary, Oil Sands Royalty Guidelines, Government of Alberta, 2008,weblink 2 February 2008,weblink" title="">weblink 1 November 2007, live, dmy, {{Citation|last=Walker |first=Ian C. |title=Marketing Challenges for Canadian Bitumen |place=Tulsa, OK |publisher=International Centre for Heavy Hydrocarbons |year=1998 |url= |archive-url= |url-status=dead |archive-date=2012-03-13 |quote=Bitumen has been defined by various sources as crude oil with a dynamic viscosity at reservoir conditions of more than 10,000 centipoise. Canadian "bitumen" supply is more loosely accepted as production from the Athabasca, Wabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake oil-sands deposits. The majority of the oil produced from these deposits has an API gravity of between 8° and 12° and a reservoir viscosity of over 10,000 centipoise although small volumes have higher API gravities and lower viscosities. }} while the material obtained from the fractional distillation of crude oil boiling at {{convert|525|C|F}} is sometimes referred to as "refined bitumen". The Canadian province of Alberta has most of the world's reserves of natural asphalt in the Athabasca oil sands, which cover {{convert|142000|km2}}, an area larger than England.WEB, ST98-2015: Alberta's Energy Reserves 2014 and Supply/Demand Outlook 2015–2024, Statistical Reports (ST), Alberta Energy Regulator, 2015,weblink 19 January 2016, Asphalt properties change with temperature, which means that there is a specific range where viscosity permits adequate compaction by providing lubrication between particles during the compaction process. Low temperature prevents aggregate particles from moving, and the required density is not possible to achieveJOURNAL, Polaczyk, Pawel, Han, Bingye, Huang, Baoshan, Jia, Xiaoyang, Shu, Xiang, 2018-10-30, Evaluation of the hot mix asphalt compactability utilizing the impact compaction method, Construction and Building Materials, 187, 131–137, 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2018.07.117, 0950-0618, .



The word "asphalt" is derived from the late Middle English, in turn from French asphalte, based on Late Latin asphalton, asphaltum, which is the latinisation of the Greek ἄσφαλτος (ásphaltos, ásphalton), a word meaning "asphalt/bitumen/pitch",ἄσφαλτος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus which perhaps derives from ἀ-, "without" and σφάλλω (sfallō), "make fall".σφάλλω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus The first use of asphalt by the ancients was in the nature of a cement for securing or joining together various objects, and it thus seems likely that the name itself was expressive of this application. Specifically, Herodotus mentioned that bitumen was brought to Babylon to build its gigantic fortification wall.Herodotus, The Histories, 1.179.4, on Perseus From the Greek, the word passed into late Latin, and thence into French (asphalte) and English ("asphaltum" and "asphalt"). In French, the term asphalte is used for naturally occurring asphalt-soaked limestone deposits, and for specialised manufactured products with fewer voids or greater bitumen content than the "asphaltic concrete" used to pave roads.The expression "bitumen" originated in the Sanskrit words jatu, meaning "pitch", and jatu-krit, meaning "pitch creating" or "pitch producing" (referring to coniferous or resinous trees). The Latin equivalent is claimed by some to be originally gwitu-men (pertaining to pitch), and by others, pixtumens (exuding or bubbling pitch), which was subsequently shortened to bitumen, thence passing via French into English. From the same root is derived the Anglo-Saxon word cwidu (mastix), the German word Kitt (cement or mastic) and the old Norse word kvada.

Modern terminology

In British English, "bitumen" is used instead of "asphalt". The word "asphalt" is instead used to refer to asphalt concrete, a mixture of construction aggregate and asphalt itself (also called "tarmac" in common parlance). Bitumen mixed with clay was usually called "asphaltum", but the term is less commonly used today.{{citation needed|date=January 2016}}In Australian English, the word "asphalt" is used to describe a mix of construction aggregate. "Bitumen" refers to the liquid derived from the heavy-residues from crude oil distillation.In American English, "asphalt" is equivalent to the British "bitumen". However, "asphalt" is also commonly used as a shortened form of "asphalt concrete" (therefore equivalent to the British "asphalt" or "tarmac").In Canadian English, the word "bitumen" is used to refer to the vast Canadian deposits of extremely heavy crude oil,WEB,weblink What is Oil Sands, 2007, Alberta Energy, 10 January 2008,weblink" title="">weblink 5 February 2016, live, while "asphalt" is used for the oil refinery product. Diluted bitumen (diluted with naphtha to make it flow in pipelines) is known as "dilbit" in the Canadian petroleum industry, while bitumen "upgraded" to synthetic crude oil is known as "syncrude", and syncrude blended with bitumen is called "synbit".WEB,weblink 2007 Canadian Crude Oil Forecast and Market Outlook, June 2007, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, 30 May 2008,weblink" title="">weblink February 26, 2014, "Bitumen" is still the preferred geological term for naturally occurring deposits of the solid or semi-solid form of petroleum. "Bituminous rock" is a form of sandstone impregnated with bitumen. The oil sands of Alberta, Canada are a similar material.Neither of the terms "asphalt" or "bitumen" should be confused with tar or coal tars. Tar is the thick liquid product of the dry distillation and pyrolysis of organic hydrocarbons primarily sourced from vegetation masses, whether fossilized as with coal, or freshly harvested. The majority of bitumen, on the other hand, was formed naturally when vast quantities of organic animal materials were deposited by water and buried hundreds of metres deep at the diagenetic point, where the disorganized fatty hydrocarbon molecules joined together in long chains in the absence of oxygen. Bitumen occurs as a solid or highly viscous liquid. It may even be mixed in with coal deposits. Bitumen, and coal using the Bergius process, can be refined into petrols such as gasoline, and bitumen may be distilled into tar, not the other way around.


{{See also|Asphaltene}}

Normal composition

The components of asphalt include four main classes of compounds: The naphthene aromatics and polar aromatics are typically the majority components. Most natural bitumens also contain organosulfur compounds, resulting in an overall sulfur content of up to 4%. Nickel and vanadium are found at

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