Where Liquid Asphalt Comes From

A Barrel of Crude Oil is a Marvelous Thing
Oil Refining Process DiagramDuring the refining process, crude oil is super-heated and different products are produced at different temperatures. For example, petroleum gases, such as propane, butane and methane, start separating at temperatures of less than 104 degrees.

As the temperature of the boiling crude continues to rise, other hydrocarbon-based fuels are recovered, including gasoline, kerosene and diesel, as well as lubricating and heavy oils.

At the end of the process, residuals are left, which include liquid asphalt. The liquid asphalt is then used as a binder when mixed with aggregate and that’s the hot mix asphalt we’re all familiar with as a paving medium.

Since it is a product of the refining process, asphalt is subject to the volatility of crude oil prices, which can have a significant impact on a project’s bottom line. Although it’s only 5 percent of the material in a standard mix, it represents about half of the cost.

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