Petroleum Bitumen Production Process
Petroleum bitumen are produced from three processes of direct extraction (Straight Run), aeration (Air Blowing) and mixing (Blending).
– Straight Run Process:
Distillation is a fundamental process in the refining of crude oil. The first stage of distillation is carried out under atmospheric pressure and usually involves heating the crude oil to a temperature of about 600-800 degrees Fahrenheit in a furnace and then injecting it into the separation column.
In this way, the lighter sections are separated from the upper sections of the tower and the bitumen residue remains at the end of the tower. In atmospheric distillation, bitumen residue is called Atmospheric Residue.
Many types of crude oil contain relatively high percentages of light cuts that cannot be distilled in an atmospheric distillation unit. To separate these sections with the desired characteristics, a secondary separation tower that works in vacuum conditions is used. The rest of this process is called vacuum batuum (VB), which in some types of heavy crude oil, vacuum batuum is very similar to bitumen, and this type of vacuum batuum can be called Straight – Run Asphalt direct extraction bitumen.
– Air Blowing Process:
Aeration is the process by which a raw bitumen feed is transformed into a product with improved properties by air contact in the temperature range of 450-550 degrees Fahrenheit. This process is sometimes called Asphalt Oxidation and its product is called Oxidized Asphalt.
But the terms air-blowing and air-blown asphalt are more appropriate, because it turns out that what happens is dehydrogenation and polymerization, and no oxygen is added to the product except in small amounts.
– Blending Process:
One of the methods of producing bitumen with the desired specifications is the blending process. In this process, light and heavy cuts of bitumen can be combined with certain ratios and achieved their mid-slices. For example, we can produce bitumen 80/100 by blending bitumen 200/300 with bitumen 40/50.