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Bitumen Emulsion, Types & Uses

Bitumen Emulsion, Types, Usages & Advantages

Most of use are well known about Bitumen. Byproduct from petroleum refinery; Bitumen is one of the most important construction material for road construction in the world. Bituminous road are cheaper, durable and most importantly comfortable to ride on. Not only the Civil Engineers but, even a common people are well aware or known about Bitumen. But when it comes to the matter of Bitumen Emulsion, might be only 20% of Civil Engineer are familiar with it.

Bitumen Emulsion is an important construction material for Road Engineering. Road Engineers (Civil) must be/ are familiar with this factory re-product of petroleum byproduct bitumen.


Bitumen is hydrocarbon byproduct/residue obtained during petroleum refining. It is highly viscous liquid, semi-solid at 25 Degree Celsius, black in color. Emulsion is mixture of two or more immiscible liquids converting them to miscible. 
Bitumen Emulsion is liquid stage of bitumen formed by mixture of Bitumen, Emulsifier & Water.
Bitumen Emulsion is grey in color & turns black as soon it is sprayed over a surface or water evaporates.

Types of Bitumen Emulsion:

Depending upon usages, producer/manufacturers has produced various types and ranges of Bitumen Emulsion. 

Based On Setting Times:

  • Rapid Setting Bitumen Emulsion :  
    As name suggested, rapid setting bitumen emulsion get into action within 5 min of exposure to surface or environment. Proportion  of Bitumen : Water : Emulsifier in percentage is 60-70 : 40-30 : 1 - 2.5 %  Rapid Setting Bitumen Emulsion is used for Cold Mix or Emulsion Aggregate Mix.
  • Medium Setting Bitumen Emulsion :
    Medium setting emulsion is cured after 5-10 minutes of exposure to environment or surface or aggregates.Proportion of Bitumen : Water : Emulsifier in percentage is 55-65 : 45-35: 1-2%      Medium setting emulsion is used for EAM, Emulsified Base, Soil Stabilization & Slurry Seal.
  • Slow Setting Bitumen Emulsion :
    Slow setting emulsion is multipurpose emulsion. It has longer curing period of almost 20 minutes. Proportion of Bitumen : Water : Emulsifier in percentage is 40-55 : 60-45: 1-1.5%
    Slow setting emulsion is used for Slurry Seal, Soil Stabilization, Emulsified Base, Damp proof coating, etc. In hot weather, it can even used for Emulsion Aggregate Mix (EAM)
Based on Electrostatic Charge:
  • Cationic Bituminous Emulsion: 
Emulsion Solution is positively charged. As silica/aggregates are negatively charged, this type of emulsion is used for EAM, SS, etc.
  • Anionic Bituminous Emulsion  
It is negatively charge. Its usages are limited only to positively charged materials and environment.

Usages of Bitumen Emulsion:

  • Emulsion Aggregate Mix / Cold Asphalt  
  • Slurry Seal
  • Emulsified Base
  • Semi Grouting with Emulsion
  • Surface Dressing
  • Prime with Emulsion  
  • Soil Stabilization

Advantages of Bitumen Emulsion:

  • Flexible: Can be used in either hot/cold/wet climate. In contrary, bitumen is effective only used in hot climatic situation.
  • Saving of fuel: Bitumen Emulsion can be readily used, no need of heating. Just pour out of drum and use it.
  • Versatility: Useful for many purpose. You can even perform premix work during rain. Isn't that amazing?
  • Best Performance: Bituminous work done by emulsion are 20% more long lasting than done of normal bitumen. It is repellent to water once after the curing.
  • Robust: Best & super fast way for treatment works like patching, potholes repairs, crack sealing, etc. 

Disadvantages of Bitumen Emulsion:

  • Expensive: Slightly expensive than ordinary bituminous works. Bituminous Emulsion is prepared/manufactured using ordinary bitumen (80/100) thus expensive by 0.05$ per litre.
  • Inactive: Can't be stored longer than 6 months as emulsifier starts looses its electrolytic charge. After long storage, bitumen emulsion converts to insoluble Bitumen & Water.
>> Also Read other post regarding usages of Bitumen Emulsion. 

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