Storing and processing bitumen safely and compliantly

Richard Harris, Technical Director, Flotech (part of the Adler and Allan Group)

The £27bn roadbuilding budget is billed as the largest ever investment in English strategic roads. The delivery of these 4,000 miles of strategic roads will require the safe storage and processing of the hazardous material bitumen. This blog considers the complex process controls and safety measures required to facilitate this increased demand.

Bitumen is a substance produced through the distillation of crude oil, known for its waterproofing and adhesive properties. It is composed of complex hydrocarbons and contains elements such as calcium, iron, sulphur, and oxygen. Used in road building due to its adhesive and waterproofing qualities, the material can also be recycled on other road projects when uplifted.

It may be ideal for road building, but it is complex to store and process safely. As a substance it needs to be stored in controlled temperatures making it extremely difficult to handle. It requires trace heated pipework to mix it in preparation for use in road construction and stainless-steel lined tankers for transportation.

Blending hard and soft bitumen requires complex process control to adhere to the stringent safety systems associated with the material.

Terminals looking to install or increase their capacity to store bitumen to support the Government initiative to invest in the UK road infrastructure will need to invest in upgrades to storage tanks and loading facilities. A full environmental audit of the site will help identify any environmental risks associated with an installation or expansion.

Armed with the results, a process control expert such as Flotech (part of the Adler and Allan Group), will be able to offer advice on loading systems and solutions integration to ensure your operation can store and process bitumen safely and compliantly.