AskDefine | Define bitumen

Dictionary Definition

bitumen n : any of various naturally occurring impure mixtures of hydrocarbons

User Contributed Dictionary



From bitumen; compare bitume and Béton.


  • /ˈbɪtjumɛn/


  1. Mineral pitch; a black, tarry substance, burning with a bright flame; Jew’s pitch. It occurs as an abundant natural product in many places, as on the shores of the Dead and Caspian Seas. It is used in cements, in the construction of pavements, et cetera.
  2. By extension, any one of the natural hydrocarbons, including the hard, solid, brittle varieties called asphalt, the semisolid maltha and mineral tars, the oily petrolea, and even the light, volatile naphthas.


Mineral pitch

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Extensive Definition

Bitumen is a mixture of organic liquids that are highly viscous, black, sticky, entirely soluble in carbon disulfide, and composed primarily of highly condensed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Naturally occurring or crude bitumen is a sticky, tar-like form of petroleum which is so thick and heavy that it must be heated or diluted before it will flow. At room temperature, it is much like cold molasses. Refined bitumen is the residual (bottom) fraction obtained by fractional distillation of crude oil. It is the heaviest fraction and the one with the highest boiling point, boiling at .
In British English, the word 'asphalt' refers to a mixture of mineral aggregate and bitumen (or tarmac in common parlance). The word 'tar' refers to the black viscous material obtained from the destructive distillation of coal and is chemically distinct from bitumen. In American English, bitumen is referred to as 'asphalt' or 'asphalt cement' in engineering jargon. In Australian English, bitumen is sometimes used as the generic term for road surfaces. In Canadian English, the word bitumen is used to refer to the vast Canadian deposits of extremely heavy crude oil, while asphalt is used for the oil refinery product used to pave roads and manufacture roof shingles. 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 as synbit.
Most bitumens contain sulfur and several heavy metals such as nickel, vanadium, lead, chromium, mercury and also arsenic, selenium, and other toxic elements. Bitumens can provide good preservation of plants and animal fossils.
bitumen in Arabic: البتومين
bitumen in Bulgarian: Битум
bitumen in Czech: Živice
bitumen in Danish: Bitumen
bitumen in German: Bitumen
bitumen in Estonian: Bituumen
bitumen in Spanish: Betún
bitumen in Esperanto: Bitumo
bitumen in Basque: Betun (hidrokarburo)
bitumen in French: Bitume
bitumen in Italian: Bitume
bitumen in Lithuanian: Bitumas
bitumen in Dutch: Bitumen
bitumen in Japanese: 歴青
bitumen in Norwegian: Bitumen
bitumen in Polish: Bitumy
bitumen in Portuguese: Betume
bitumen in Russian: Битум
bitumen in Finnish: Bitumi
bitumen in Swedish: Bitumen
bitumen in Vietnamese: Bitum
bitumen in Ukrainian: Бітуми
bitumen in Contenese: 臘青
bitumen in Chinese: 瀝青
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