Bitumens (lat. Bitumen – mountain resin, “asphalt”) are solid or tar-like products, which are a mixture of hydrocarbons and their nitrogenous, oxygen-containing, sulfurous and metal-containing derivatives. Bitumens are insoluble in water, fully or partially soluble in benzene, chloroform, carbon disulfide and other organic solvents; density of 0.95-1.50 g / cm3.
The process of extraction and complex processing of natural bitumen is performed in the following sequence:
– extraction of bitumen-containing rock;
– separation of bitumen-containing rock into organic and mineral parts;
– transportation of bitumen;
– bitumen processing.
Natural bitumens are not a marketable product, per se, like oil or gas. To obtain a commercial product from them, additional technological processes are needed. As a marketable product of the processing of natural bitumen, “synthetic oil” can be considered – a type of raw material alternative to natural oil. In addition, being a multi-component mineral, natural bitumens in addition to hydrocarbons often contain naphthenic acids, sulfonic acids, ethers and esters, sulfur, rare non-ferrous metals (vanadium, nickel, rhenium) in conditioned concentrations. The minimum concentration of vanadium in natural bitumens, at which its commercial production is beneficial is 120 g/t, and nickel – 50 g/t .