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General information

The bitumen industry is vital to Europe’s economy, contributing significantly to global consumption. According to the International Bitumen Emulsion Federation (IBEF), bitumen is extensively used for manufacturing road materials and a wide range of building and industrial products. It has over 250 known applications, with the majority being in paving and roofing.

Our Industry

The bitumen industry plays an important role in Europe’s economy. According to a report published by the International Bitumen Emulsion Federation (IBEF), the estimated world consumption of bitumen in 2022 was approximately 120 million tonnes (The Bitumen Industry – A Global Perspective (IS-230)). 

The European market accounts for 17% of global consumption, or approximately 20.5 million tonnes annually. It is used to manufacture road materials and a wide variety of specialist building and industrial products. (IS-230) There are more than 250 known bitumen applications, with most of it being used in paving and roofing applications. 

Production Methods

The bitumen we use in our roads and buildings is refined from carefully selected crude oils. A variety of different refining methods produce different kinds of bitumen and allow the manufacturer to produce specific characteristics in the bitumen. Producers optimise their selection of crude oils to produce consistent, high-quality bitumen that meets precise engineering specifications. 

Bitumen production is a specialist activity and is not carried out in all oil refineries. It requires crude oils with specific characteristics and only some crudes are suitable. Of the 1,300 (or more) types of crude oils, only approximately 10% can be used to produce bitumen that meets the stringent engineering requirements of end users today.  

There are several notable production methods: 

  • Distillation

    The most common refining process used for producing bitumen is straight reduction to grade from petroleum crude oil or a crude blend, using atmospheric and vacuum distillation. 

  • Blending

    By blending the higher and lower viscosity residues in the required proportions, different grades of bitumen products are produced for a variety of applications such as paving, penetration bitumen, thermoplastics or elastomers. 

  • Oxidation and Air-Rectification  

    Bitumen can be further processed by blowing air through it at elevated temperatures to alter its physical properties for specific applications. Air-rectified bitumen is used in paving and roofing applications, while oxidised bitumen is used in some industrial and roofing applications, too. 

  • Modification 

    The properties of bitumen can be modified to increase, for example, flexibility and stiffness. This is frequently achieved by the addition of synthetic polymers, although other modifiers may be used. The modification process is frequently carried out using high-shear blenders to reduce the particle size of the polymer and ensure a homogenous product. 


A material as fascinating as it is versatile. 

Roads are the arteries that link our society together. Bitumen holds our city streets together and connects cities and countries across vast distances. It’s a backbone for personal and business travel, tourism and logistics. 

But it’s not just roads – bitumen is vital to all kinds of construction and infrastructure projects, large and small. Without bitumen our world would be a very different place; our cities and our houses would be very different; our lives would be less mobile and less connected. This valuable material has countless uses and applications, and more are being discovered every year, thanks to research and development within the bitumen industry. 

Flexible to work with and safe to use, durable and hard-wearing, easy to maintain and 100% reusable, bitumen is the perfect choice for forward-thinking construction and infrastructure projects. 

Mobility Infrastructure 

  • Safe and smooth roads

    Bitumen is a principal component of asphalt, providing it with the necessary performance properties. Asphalt roads are more flexible to build and easier to maintain than roads using any other material in modern societies. They are more cost-effective in both construction and maintenance and help reduce noise pollution. Asphalt roads are durable and are 100% recyclable.  

  • Tailor-made, durable design 

    Thanks to the flexibility and durability of bitumen, long lasting asphalt roads can be built to meet a wide variety of needs with the correct pavement design and planned maintenance. Asphalt is used for motorways, urban, suburban, and rural roads, and different solutions for high-load and bridge surfaces. Asphalt pavements can be built to cope with extreme temperature differences, for freezes and thaws.  

  • Fast construction 

    Due to bitumen’s unique properties, asphalt roads can be constructed very quickly, and because asphalt effectively needs no “cure” time, motorists can use a new road soon after placement. Bitumen’s recyclability also means the roads can be easily removed and resurfaced almost immediately. 

  • 100% recyclable 

    Bitumen’s recyclability means that reclaimed asphalt can routinely be re-laid along with fresh materials, saving money and preserving non-renewable natural resources. Recycling also reduces the use of virgin natural resources, reduces landfill, and saves both cost and emissions for transport. 


  • Shaping the World Around Us

    The characteristics of bitumen give architects, structural engineers, and planners the freedom to redesign the world we live in. Bituminous membranes are water-repellent and flexible, making them ideal for waterproofing roofs and other structural elements. A natural adhesive, they can be applied to any number of substructure materials, and their natural flexibility helps to prevent rips and tears even with significant structural movement. 

    Bituminous membranes retain their adhesion and flexibility for a long time, and so can significantly contribute to a structure’s durability and longevity. Bituminous membranes have been used for over 100 years, and the European Waterproofing Association highlights that bituminous membranes can last for up to 90 years! 

  • Building materials

    Bitumen products are everywhere in modern buildings, both to protect the structural elements and to keep moisture out. Traditionally used to weatherproof low slope roofs, bituminous membranes are finding new uses in the movement towards carbon-neutral buildings. These membranes can be used to support roof gardens or eco-roofing, in both commercial and residential developments. 

  • Civil engineering 

    The correct surface is of vital importance in civil engineering projects: waterproofing bridges, tunnels, parking decks, and the sub-soil parts of buildings. Bituminous products are designed to withstand extreme conditions and provide a safe, durable surface. 

  • Hydraulic engineering 

    Asphalt concrete with a void content of ≤ 3% is watertight and can be used to seal structures or basins that will be used to contain water or other liquids. These include waterproofing dams, reservoirs, landfill sites and flood protection basins. 

Other applications

  • A part of everyday life

    Bitumen is everywhere – even in places where you wouldn’t expect to find it. The versatile material plays an important role in many everyday applications above and beyond asphalt streets and roofing. Bitumen’s waterproofing and adhesive properties, durability and resistance to heavy loads make it the ideal material for use in all-weather environments. Where strength and weatherproofing are essential requirements, bitumen is a prime contributor to the performance of a vast range of products. Bitumen membranes are also extensively used as sound-deadening panels in the automobile market. 

  • Agriculture

    Modern farms rely on bitumen and products using refined bitumen for a number of vital applications. Bituminous paving materials provide flooring in barns, barnyards, and feed platforms while tanks, vats and other concrete structures can be waterproofed with bituminous products. 

  • Industry 

    Importantly, bitumen is a critical component for waterproofing sub-sea cables and pipelines. It plays a role as a noise reducer in cars and dishwashers. Bitumen is also in a variety of grease and lubricant products for different applications, from the tracks of earth-moving equipment to traction-motor gearboxes.  

  • Sport

    Solutions based on bitumen and bituminous materials are used to waterproof swimming pools and in numerous applications in event locations. It’s in the rubberised surface of running tracks, in tennis courts and other sports surfaces, such as the asphalt race tracks for F1.  



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Bitumen is one of the best construction materials that can directly offer help towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 9.

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