The average consumer probably pays bitumen little concern, as a rule. But bitumen and its products are a critical component of a comfortable life as most of us know it! In fact, without this product, our modern world would look quite different. From the asphalt we use to build roads to the roofing on our houses, bitumen is critical for many infrastructure projects, with new applications rolling out every year. Safe to use and quick to install – and 100% recyclable – it is a construction product dream.
Bitumen comes from oil sands mining in the froth produced from extraction. The issue with this froth is that it is only really 50 – 60% bitumen with a high concentration of solids and sometimes as much as 40% water. The froth has to be processed with a solvent or light hydrocarbon in order to remove these impurities and get to the valuable bitumen. The final product is eventually sent to an upgrader for conversion to synthetic crude or diluted and sold directly to refineries.
The cleaning of this product is a critical part of the process. Reducing its viscosity means a product that is ready to hit a third-party pipeline sooner and a higher quality product brings a better price. Sometimes the treatment process is corrosive as well, given that water can carry a significant concentration of dissolved salts. These realities make picking the proper products even more important.
An inline steam heater from Komax, for example, performs at 99% efficiency or better and is a whopping 20-25% more efficient than other heat exchangers on the market. With its low capital cost and other desired features (like reduction of noise and vibration), it is well worth the investment. Part of the innovation in design, which involves no moving parts, allows the steam and the bitumen froth to mix together instantly for maximum bitumen production. Why not see how a Komax inline steam heater would max your profits on this valuable product.