Bitumen Emulsion

Bitumen Emulsion

Bitumen Emulsion have being 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 addiction of surfactants – Surface active agents – or we most commonly know them as emulsifiers, that will permit the bitumen to de 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.

Three Categories of Bitumen Emulsions:

  • Anionic with negatively charged globules

  • Cationic with positively charged globules

  • Non-ionic with neutral globules.

  • The main grades for bitumen emulsions are as follows:

  • Bitumen Emulsions
  • Cationic Emulsion Grade

  • Bitumen Emulsion is an area where technological progress is still being made to meet the requirements of pavement engineering. We first developed Anionic emulsions . They are currently less favored than the cationic emulsions, as cationic emulsions coat the aggregates more efficiently due to their positive load and have therefore better adhesion properties. We use Cationic Emulsion both more favored and more widely.

Emulsified Bitumen usually consists of bitumen droplets suspended in water. This dispersion under normal circumstances would not take place, since everyone knows that oil and water don’t mix, but if an emulsifying agent is added to the water the asphalt will remain dispersed. Most emulsion are used for surface treatments. Emulsions enable much lower application temperatures to be used. Application temperatures range from 45°C to 70°C. This is much lower than the 150 to 190°C used for hot mix asphalt cements. The lower application temperatures will not damage the asphalt and are much safer for field personnel.

Cationic Emulsion Grade Part 2

In the production of bitumen emulsion, water is treated with an emulsifying agent and other chemicals and is pumped to a colloid mill along with bitumen. The colloid mill breaks the bitumen up into tiny droplets. The emulsifying agent migrates to the asphalt-water interface and keeps the droplets from coalescing. then we pump The emulsion to a storage tank.

Bitumen emulsions are complicated and good chemistry we require to reach target desired emulsion properties. Variables in emulsion production include the base bitumen and the type and amount of emulsifying agent. There are two basic classifications of emulsions globally usually we use, anionic bitumen emulsions and cationic bitumen emulsions.

The type (chemistry) of the emulsifying agent we use, determines the designation. Emulsifying agents are the chemicals we use to stabilize the emulsion and keep the “billions and billions” of bitumen drops separated from one another. These compounds are large organic molecules that have two distinct parts to them. These parts we call the “head” and “tail.” The “head” portion consists of a group of atoms that chemically have positive and negative charge areas.

These two charged areas give rise to the head we call polar (as in poles of a magnet). Because of this polarity, and the nature of some of the atoms in this polar head, the head is soluble in water. The tail consists of a long chain organic group that is not soluble in water, but is soluble in other organic materials like oils (bitumen). Thus, an emulsifying agent is one molecule with both water-soluble and oil soluble portions. This unique characteristic gives the chemical its emulsifying ability.

Anionic Emulsions

The term anionic we derive from the migration of particles of bitumen under an electric field. The droplets migrate toward the anode (positive electrode), and hence the emulsion we call anionic. In an anionic emulsion, there are “billions and billions” of bitumen droplets with emulsifying agent at the water bitumen interface. The tail portion of the emulsifying agent aligns itself in the bitumen while the positive portion of the head floats around in the water leaving the rest of the head negatively charged and at the surface of the droplet.

This imparts a negative charge to all the droplets. Since negatives repel each other, all the droplets repel each other and remain as distinct bitumen drops in suspension. A typical anionic emulsifying agent we show below along with a diagram showing the orientation of the agent at the bitumen-water interface and the negative charge we imparted to each drop.

Typical Anionic Emulsifying Agent

Typical Anionic Emulsifying Agent

 Cationic Emulsions

The term cationic we derive from the migration of particles of bitumen under an electric field also. The droplets migrate toward the cathode (negative electrode), and hence the emulsion we call cationic. The cationic emulsifying agent functions similarly to the anionic; the negative portion of the head floats around in the water leaving a positively charged head. This imparts a positive charge to all the droplets. Since positives repel each other, all the droplets repel each other and remain as distinct bitumen drops in suspension. A typical cationic emulsifying agent we show below along with a diagram showing the orientation of the agent at the bitumen-water interface and the positive charge imparted to each drop.

Typical Cationic Emulsifying Agent

Typical Cationic Emulsifying Agent

Breaking Characteristics of Emulsions

Part 1

Emulsions exist for ease of application. After application the water to should evaporate and leave the asphalt cement. In a surface treatment, after emulsion and aggregate we apply to the road surface, the emulsion should “break” leaving the asphalt cement holding the aggregate. At that point traffic we allow on the surface without loss of aggregate. The type of emulsion we use has a large effect on the speed of the “break” of an emulsion.
Almost all surfaces have a net negative charge. The strength or intensity of this negative charge may be different from material to material. Because of this phenomenon, anionic and cationic emulsions break in different ways.
In an application of anionic emulsion, negatively charged drops of asphalt we apply to a negatively charged surface. All components repel each other. The only way the emulsion can break is through the loss of water by evaporation.

As more and more water is lost through evaporation, the particles are forced closer and closer together until they can no longer a film of water separate that . At this point droplets coalesce into larger and larger drops and ultimately a sheet of asphalt on the road. A depiction of the application we show below:

cationic emulsion application

Part 2

In an application of cationic emulsion, we are applying positively charge drops of bitumen to a negatively charge surface. The bitumen drops we immediately attract to the surface and begin to break. The emulsion also loses water by evaporation. Thus the cationic emulsion has two breaking mechanisms at work and will break faster than a corresponding anionic emulsion. A depiction of the application we show below:

cationic emulsion application.jpg

The object of a surface treatment is to seal the road from moisture intrusion and provide a new skid resistant surface, but are open to traffic as soon as possible and retain aggregate. Due to the chemistry of emulsions, they may react differently in specific weather and application conditions. If you have problems in any of these areas, the problem could be because of the weather, aggregate condition or emulsion we use.

In bitumen emulsions the basic bitumen we also dilute that in order to facilitate application. Hot bitumen, water and emulsifier we processed in a high-speed colloid mill that disperses the bitumen in the water. The emulsifier produces a system in which fine droplets of bitumen, of between 30% and 80% of the volume, we held in suspension. If they separate in storage, the emulsion can easily agitation restore them.

Bitumen emulsions have a low viscosity and can work with that at ambient temperatures, which makes them ideal for use in road pavements and surfacing. This application requires controlled breaking and setting. The emulsion must not break before they we lay on the road surface but, once in place, they should break quickly so that the road is in service again without delay.


What is tack coat?

Tack coat (also we know as bond coat) is a light application of asphalt emulsion between hot mix asphalt layers we design to create a strong adhesive bond without slippage. Heavier applications may be we use under porous layers or around patches where it also functions as a seal coat.

Why use tack coat?

Without tack coat the asphalt layers in a road way may separate which reduces the structural integrity of the road and may also allow water to penetrate the structure

What type of Emulsion We should use for tack coats?

The type of emulsion we use for tack coats varies from country to country. Normal practice in the USA is to use a slow-setting emulsion that we dilute with water before application. In many European countries cationic rapid setting or specially designate low viscosity medium setting emulsions we use, which we apply undiluted.


Why use prime coat?

Prime coats protect the integrity of the granular base during construction and help reduce dust. In the case of a base which we covered with a thin hot mix layer or a chip seal for a low volume roadway, priming ensures a good bond between the seal and the underlying surface which otherwise would have a tendency to delaminate.

Why use asphalt emulsion prime?

We Compared to cut back asphalt primes, emulsion primes are environmentally friendlier.

What type of emulsion is most suitable for emulsion prime?

Slow-setting grades of asphalt emulsions (that we dilut with water before application) are suitable. With dense granular bases, or stabilizing bases scarifying before application may break the surface, to ensure good penetration.