Since 2009 we have expanded our offering line to include other refinery products, including: Jet A1 ; NATO F-34; F-44, Diesel EN590, Gasoline RON 95 and Additived. Each of these products consists of a blend of several different streams produced by refineries in Central and Easter Europe. These products are procused meeting european specifications on the refinery premises before being delivered to the markets. Delivery may be done via rail, sea/ocean shipment, or loaded onto tanker trucks for direct delivery to European destinations.
We can also offer a comprehensive range of Bitumen and Bitumen emulsions suitable to meet the current demands of a broad customer base. Our products range from standard penetration grade bitumen to a full range of oxidised bitumen and polymer modified bitumen.
Our in-house knowledge and expertise is shared throughout our affiliated companies such as Consiliari Bitum,which captures the full range of the Bitumen related products and offers.
What is Bitumen?
The Bitumen is well known for many generations. In the past, it was used to waterproof boats, and even as a coating for buildings; it is possible, for example, that a number of cities such as Carthage was easily burnt down due to extensive use of bitumen in construction.
Nowadays vast majority of refined bitumen is used in construction: primarily as a constituent of products used in paving and roofing applications.
Bitumen is produced by removing the lighter fractions (such as liquid petroleum gas, petrol and diesel) from heavy crude oil during the refining process. As such, it is correctly known as refined bitumen. In North America, bitumen is commonly known as “asphalt”. While elsewhere, “asphalt” is the term used for a mixture of small stones, sand, filler and bitumen, which is used as a road paving material. The asphalt mixture contains approximately 5% bitumen
It is estimated that the current world use of bitumen is approximately 132 million MT per year. Approximately 85% of all the bitumen produced is used as the binder in asphalt for roads. It is also used in other paved areas such as airport runways, car parks and footways. Typically, the production of asphalt involves mixing sand, gravel and crushed rock with bitumen, which acts as the binding agent. Other materials, such as polymers, may be added to the bitumen to alter its properties according to the application for which the asphalt is ultimately intended.
A further 10% of global bitumen production is used in roofing applications, where its waterproofing qualities are invaluable. The remaining 5% of bitumen is used mainly for sealing and insulating purposes in a variety of building materials, such as pipe coatings, carpet tile backing and paint.
What are the three stages of refining?
The principal at refinery, crude is converted into finished products using rigorous processes involving three types of operations (separation, conversion, upgrading):
• Separation processes
The first stage involves separating the molecules through atmospheric distillation (i.e. normal atmospheric pressure), according to their molecular weight. This process, also known as topping, consists of heating the oil to 350/400°C, causing it to evaporate at the base of a 60-meter-high distillation tower. The crude vapors rise inside the tower while the heaviest molecules, or heavy residue, remain at the bottom without evaporating. As the vapors rise the temperature progressively drops causing the molecules to condense into liquids, the heaviest first followed by gases that alone reach the top of the tower, where the temperature is now only 150°C. There are outlets located at different levels to collect these liquids, which become increasingly light up along the tower. Each outlet corresponds to a fractional distillation, also known as a petroleum cut, beginning with bitumen (highly viscous hydrocarbons) all the way to gases.
The heavy residue from this distillation still contains many mid-density products. This residue is placed in another tower and distilled again to recover mid-range products (heavy fuel and diesel).
• Conversion processes
After separation, the proportion of heavy hydrocarbons is still too high. To meet demand for lighter products, these heavy molecules are broken up into two or more lighter molecules. This conversion process, carried out at 500°C, is also known as catalytic cracking because it uses a catalyst (a substance that accelerates and facilitates chemical reactions). 75% of heavy products subjected to conversion are converted into gas, gasoline and diesel this way. The result can be improved by adding hydrogen or using carbon extraction methods to recover more light molecules (deep conversion). So, all heavy hydrocarbons can be converted into light hydrocarbons but the more complex the operation the more it costs and the more energy it uses. The ongoing aim of refiners is to find a balance between the degree and the cost of the conversion!
• Upgrading processes
These involve significantly reducing or eliminating corrosive or environmentally harmful molecules –particularlysulfur. EU sulfur emission standards are strict: since January 1, 2009, gasoline and diesel containing more than 10 ppm (10 mg/kg) of sulfur may not be used in Europe3. The purpose of these measures is to improve the ambient air quality by optimizing the effectiveness of catalytic exhaust gas treatment technologies. Diesel is desulfurized at 370°C, at a pressure of 60 bars and in the presence of hydrogen: under these conditions, the sulfur atoms break off from the hydrocarbon molecules and combine with hydrogen atoms to form hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This is then processed to extract sulfur, a substance used in industry.
Kerosene, and butane and propane gases are washed in soda to remove the marceptans they contain – these are molecules of nauseating, corrosive alcohol containing one or more sulfur atoms instead of oxygen atoms). This process is called sweetening.
Processing motor fuels
Motor fuels also need to be processed to increase their octane rating, which measures a fuel’s resistance to auto-ignition, quantified out of 100, (auto-ignition is the tendency of the fuel in an internal combustion engine to ignite spontaneously with no input from the spark plug). If the octane rating is not high enough, this will over time irreversibly damage the engine. To avoid this, the octane rating needs to be raised to 95 or 98. The process used here is called catalytic reforming. The associated chemical reactions are carried out at 500°C at a pressure of 10 bars, using platinum as a catalyst. They convert some of the naphthenic hydrocarbons (saturated cyclic) into aromatic hydrocarbons (unsaturated cyclic) which have a much higher octane rating. Other chemical reactions, such as alkylation, also improve the octane rating.
Our suppliers from Russian regions and the Middle East refer to these standards.