Bitumen emulsion is a mixture of fine droplets that consist of bitumen and water. Bitumen, also known as asphalt in the U.S., is formed by the distillation of crude oil. Bitumen emulsifiers are used over bitumen without emulsion as hot bitumen poses the risk of fire, burns, and higher emission over the cool emulsion, which is safer to use as well as environment-friendly.
Bitumen emulsion primarily finds use in road construction works; it is used as a binder in road construction, protective coatings, and adhesives in the building and construction industry and for road maintenance and repair patchwork.
Bitumen emulsifiers can be used in wet weather conditions, making them reliable in monsoons. Additionally, their impact on the environment is significantly low as they are water-based. The widespread adoption of these emulsifiers in road and building construction and repair work is expected to drive the bitumen emulsifiers market during the forecast period.
The global bitumen emulsifiers market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.2% during the forecast period, 2023–2031.
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|Report Coverage||Revenue Forecast, Competitive Landscape, Growth Factors, Environment & Regulatory Landscape and Trends|
Bitumen emulsifiers have replaced several applications of asphalt emulsions today. The shift can be attributed to the former’s resistance to wet conditions. Bitumen emulsifiers are in the growth phase but closer to the mature phase. They have been recording significant applications for the past few decades, particularly in the construction sector.
Bitumen emulsifiers are used for waterproofing foundations and bearing walls in construction projects. Other key waterproofing applications include cold waterproofing masonry and in man-made tunnels or underpasses.
Tunnel construction projects have seen exemplary growth in the past few years. The International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA) estimates the global tunneling market to account for approx. USD 95 billion. About 5,200 km of tunnels have been built annually since 2013. At present, the tunneling market represents approx. 6–7% of the global infrastructure construction market.
The bitumen emulsifiers market is expected to witness the most significant growth in regions with the strongest construction sectors. Thus, North America and Asia-Pacific are pegged as key markets globally, with the U.S., China, and India leading growth on a country level and large-scale infrastructure projects such as roads and highways accounting for the largest consumption.
North America is the world’s largest construction market, with the U.S. alone contributing approx. USD 1,293,000 million to it. Stalled construction projects resumed post the 2008 recession, with substantial growth in roadway and highway projects. Additionally, the U.S. has the largest road network (approx. 4.3 million km of paved road), followed by China and India. Thus, repair and maintenance works also account for significant consumption.
The construction rate in India has increased significantly in recent years. Roads were built at a fair pace of 26.93 km/day, totaling to 9,829 km of roads, in 2018. As per the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian government has approved the second phase of its rural road program Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to widen and revamp 125,000 km of roads. Additionally, India’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is expected to award road projects spanning 4,500 km worth USD 7,150 million.
Anionic, cationic, and non-ionic are the three types of bitumen emulsifiers currently in production.
Anionic Bitumen Emulsifiers: In anionic emulsifiers, the term ‘anionic’ refers to the movement of bitumen under an electric field. The droplets are attracted to the anode, a positive electrode; therefore, the emulsion is referred to as anionic. Anionic bitumen emulsifiers are fatty acids based and reacted with a base such as caustic soda or caustic potash to form the salt, which acts as an active emulsifier.
Cationic Bitumen Emulsifiers: On the contrary, cationic bitumen emulsions are positively charged and based on the acid salts of amines made from fatty acids such as fatty quaternary compounds, fatty diamines, or ethoxylated derivatives.
Anionic vs. Cationic Bitumen Emulsifiers: Cationic bitumen emulsifiers offer significant advantages over anionic ones. Anionic emulsions are less versatile and work well with alkali minerals, whereas cationic emulsions work smoothly with both alkali and acidic minerals. Additionally, cationic bitumen emulsions save worker time due to better compatibility. Thus, the cationic segment is pegged to record more significant growth in the coming years.
Types of Bitumen Emulsifiers by Setting Time
When bitumen emulsifiers are used for road construction, the water evaporates, leaving behind a residue of bitumen droplets. These droplets then bind with each other and eventually gain strength. On the basis of the time taken by the emulsion to evaporate water, the bitumen emulsifier market is classified into the slow-setting emulsion, medium setting emulsion, and rapid setting emulsion.
The process of water evaporation is relatively slow in the slow-setting emulsion, but it is comparatively more stable. In a medium setting emulsion, the process of evaporation initiates only when the fine dust of mineral is combined with the emulsion mix.
Evolving Applications of Bitumen Emulsifiers
Bitumen emulsifiers are used for various applications such as roadway and railway construction. A road network plays a notable role in the development of any nation. Mankind has been using bitumen in a variety of applications, including embalming the dead and as a waterproofing agent, for more than 5000 years now. In the contemporary scenario, the primary use of bitumen is limited to the road-making industry for construction and maintenance. In road construction, bitumen emulsifiers are typically used as a binder.
Increasing Number of Metro Projects to Bolster the Bitumen emulsifiers Market
Bitumen emulsifiers are extensively used in railway lines’ construction and waterproofing. They are used for the trackbed upon which railroad ties are laid. There has been a gradual increase in the global metro, light rail, and high-speed rail lines in terms of kilometers over almost the past two decades. A detailed chart showing year-by-year growth from the year 2000 to 2018 is provided below.
The Asia-Pacific region, especially India, has seen exponential growth in the number of rail lines. Bustling railway activity in India has led to an upsurge in demand for bitumen emulsifier. On April 1, 2019, the Indian railways declared a commitment of 189 new railway line projects spanning 2,555 km worth USD 53,214.93 million.