March 27, 2012

Modified Bitumen Usage and refinement of Specification

Modified Bitumen Usage and refinement of Specification. India in Colloboration with UK.

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways is primarily responsible for development and maintenance of National Highways in the country through various executing agencies including National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). National Highway development projects are planned and designed for constructing all weather roads for specific designed life, in accordance with approved Standards, Specifications, Codes and Guidelines which are reviewed and updated from time to time for incorporating latest developments including introduction of new materials, specifications and techniques such as modified bitumen, Stone Matrix Asphalt, Recycling of Pavements, Ground Improvement techniques etc. for improving the longevity of roads.

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI) have signed an Agreement on 18th January, 2011 to develop and expand co-operation in the roads and highway sector in India on the basis of mutual benefit. The aim of the Agreement is to stimulate business activities and to facilitate technical knowledge up gradation between public and private sector enterprises and professional institutions. Besides, highway engineers of the Ministry and NHAI regularly undertake collaborative training programmes in various developed countries for gaining technical knowledge for improving the technology of building roads.

This information was given by the Minister of Road Transport & Highways Dr. Tushar A. Choudhary in a written reply in Lok Sabha today


Source- Press Release

March 23, 2012

Plastic Roads

A week after it formally announced the decision to lay a 10km long road using plastic wastes, Coimbatore city corporation has launched a massive hunt for carry bags weighing less than 40 microns. The initiative targeting shops and establishments has been vastly successful, with officials seizing an average of 400 kg of plastic a day.

The seized plastics will be used along with plastic waste collected across the city to construct the proposed road. According to Corporation Commissioner T K Ponnusamy, the civic body is hell-bent on making the city free from plastic pollutants. "We have intensified our drive to seize banned plastic. Our focus is on locating wholesale distributors of banned plastic. The public can also help by informing the corporation on illegal use of plastic," he said.

According to C M J Raman, Secretary of Citizen's Voice Club, it is a welcome initiative to lay roads using plastic wastes. "Developed by a professor in Madurai, this technology has been widely successful. It is good to know that the corporation will help eliminate pollutants in this way. If the corporation takes steps to bring down the price of cloth bags, more people will opt for them," he said. According to Ponnusamy, the corporation is yet to identify the road to be laid using plastic. But works should begin very soon, he said. Only recently, the Chennai corporation laid a similar road near Valluvar Kottam successfully.

"Plastic waste is mixed with asphalt to create a compound called polymerized bitumen which enables the road to withstand monsoons and everyday wear and tare," said a corporation official who says they are hoping to collect at least 50 tonnes of plastic wastes for this purpose. If it is successful, they plan to lay more roads this way, he revealed.

With the initiation of this project, the corporation's anti-plastic drive which had lost its sheen is now regaining momentum. Many leading shops in the city have stopped using the banned plastic. D Ramesh, managing director of three franchisees of supermarket chain Nilgiris, says that they strictly follow the corporation's directive.

"We do not sell plastic covers below 40 microns. Also, we charge for every cover. Each may cost from Rs 1 to Rs 3 depending on size. We even lost a few customers at our Race Course branch as neighbouring shops do not charge for covers. Some customers bring their own bags. However, I cannot say that the use of plastic has come down significantly," he said.

M Priya, a lecturer, says that she believes there are limitations in banning plastics altogether. "Alternative options must be explored. Cloth bags can be used. But there are limitations as it is not always possible to carry a cloth bag," she said. P Lovelin, a businessman in Podanur echoes the same sentiment. "It is good if we can avoid all types of plastics. But how often will we remember to take a cloth bag. It is odd to carry such a bag in front of people," he says frankly

Source - Times of India 

March 19, 2012

Poor Quality Roads in Nigeria

LOKOJA - Engineers of Kogi Ministry of Works who connive with contractors or fail to ensure proper supervision of government contracts for quality job delivery are to be relieved of their appointments.

The Speaker of Kogi House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, said this while ruling on a motion by Mr. Nathaniel Taiwo of Kabba-Bunu constituency at Wednesday’s plenary sitting of the House.

Reports say that the Speaker decried the spate of shoddy execution of road and housing contracts awarded by government, which the ministry’s engineers ought to have supervised.

In his motion, Taiwo had urged the House to impress on the government to opt for asphalt overlay rather than surface dressing in awarding road contracts.

He said the surface dressing hardly lasts up to six months before developing potholes.

Seconding the motion, Mr Gabriel Daudu of Ogori-Magongo constituency, said the experience of the state in surface dressed roads was not encouraging.

The lawmaker remarked that asphalt overlay would last longer and serve the people better.

After several contributions from members, most of whom expressed dismay over the spate of dilapidation of the roads recently constructed, Bello said that the works ministry engineers had failed in their responsibility.

The Speaker asserted that the problem with the roads had nothing to do with asphalt overlay or surface dressing, but inability of the ministry to supervise the jobs and ensure quality delivery.

He noted that several surface dressed roads in other states constructed years ago with bitumen under President Shehu Shagari’s administration were still serving in some states.

“The roads were done by human beings, not spirits. It is not the fault of the ex-governor but the Ministry of Works which failed to supervise the contracts.

‘’There is need to put the ministry’s engineers on notice that their jobs are on the line because of their inability to ensure quality jobs.”

Source -

March 15, 2012

EU Bans Iran Bitumen

The European Union is seeking to ban imports of products including petroleum oils and natural gas from Iran and to bar global bank-transfer messaging companies from providing services to entities subject to EU sanctions. 

The EU regulatory arm and the bloc’s foreign affairs service proposed that as well as more common fuels such as gasoline and diesel, the list of banned products include oils obtained from bituminous materials other than crude, liquefied petroleum gas as well as bitumen and asphalt, according to a draft regulation obtained by Bloomberg. The document details what is included in the EU’s oil embargo on Iran, which enters into full force on July 1 when a grace period on existing contracts ends. 

The EU is also seeking to prohibit the supply of “financial communication services” to individuals and businesses whose assets and resources the bloc decided to freeze, according to the draft measure, which is being considered by EU national governments.
That clarifies that Swift will have to impose sanctions against Iranian financial institutions. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication said last month it is prepared to discontinue services once the EU presents implementing rules on restrictions adopted by the bloc’s 27 nations on Jan. 23. 

The EU draft regulation offers some exemptions from the asset freeze, including the possibility of releasing certain funds for diplomatic missions or making available of certain funds to the Central Bank of Iran for the execution of existing contracts, which are allowed to continue until July 1. 

To contact the reporter on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Brussels at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at

March 12, 2012

Bitumen Prices and the Cost Pressure

Bitumen, a by product of fractional distillation has been mostly used for Road Constuction has been under constant cost pressure due to Price Fixing by Oil Majors and the alternatives available for better margin is the major component of Road Building and Maintenance.

Tarmac has issued a call for volatile and unpredictable increases in bitumen costs to be acknowledged more consistently in highways contracts.

Price increase mechanisms must be consistent across industry, according to the company. It said that rising bitumen prices driven by a major decrease in European refinery production  are making it extremely difficult for highways contractors to tender for work. Current price fluctuation mechanisms do not accurately compensate for these significant increases in input costs, said Tarmac National Contracting in a call for greater industry consistency.

The company said that, after two years of price rises – which seem set to continue - price increase indices should be consistent and appropriate across highways contracts, to help the industry accurately forecast the cost of road construction and maintenance.

Tarmac said that appropriate price fluctuation mechanisms have been embraced on some major contracts such as the Highways Agency’s category management contracts and a minority of council tenders, but they are not being consistently applied across all national network and local authority road contracts.
Tarmac said that the unsustainable and continued increase in the price of bitumen is causing major issues for clients and suppliers alike on roads contracts. Bitumen, which accounts for about a third of the cost of constructing a new road, has increased in price by nearly 60% over the last two years.
The company said that it is continuing to work with its customers to mitigate the cost of bitumen on resurfacing projects by promoting the use of recycled asphalt. It is also turning to alternative road construction methods, as bitumen price hikes drive a strong move toward composite road construction on new-build schemes. These roads are constructed using cement-bound pavements surfaced with a thin layer of asphalt.

Paul Fleetham, managing director of Tarmac National Contracting and Middle East, said:  “The high price of bitumen is not directly linked to the price of oil, which is currently relatively low. Bitumen costs are increasing because refineries are being converted to enable them to produce higher value products such as diesel from the bituminous grades. With one of the largest UK refiners, Petroplus, entering administration last month, the general trend is for less bitumen to be available, exerting additional cost pressures.

“As a business, we are already investing time and resource into developing bitumen replacement technologies however our options are limited. The industry is at a tipping point as it tries to recover these exceptional increases on existing contracts and anticipate the negative impact these may have when tendering for future long-term highway works.


March 6, 2012

Bitumen Emulsion or Cut-Back Bitumen- Choice by Default

While the developed countries have switched to Bitumen Emulsion , which uses Emulsifier and water with Bitumen for tack coat unlike developing countries are using Cut-back bitumen which uses Kerosene as a mixture for better adhesion, Scarcity of Kerosene has led to the adoption of bitumen emulsion in Nigeria which in turn is Environmental Friendly, by default... Pls read on..

The Federal Government has approved the use of water to mix bitumen for construction companies in the country instead of the usual practice of using kerosene to mix bitumen for surface dressing of roads. The use of kerosine to mix bitumen has been fingered as one of the major causes  kerosene scarcity in the country.
Works Minister, Mr. Mike Onolememen who disclosed this at a five-day workshop on quality control for Federal highway projects organized by the Department of Material, Geotechnics and Quality Control, MGQC in Abuja,  said the ministry has accepted the use of water in place of kerosene as recommended by the quality control department.

He explained that the Ministry  has taken step to address road construction problems. This necessitated   the creation of a full pledged department of Material Geotechnics and Quality Controll with the main responsibility of advising on, closely monitoring and ensuring that materials used in the construction of Federal roads are of the highest economically feasible quality and meet necessary standards specified for them.

The approval of water to mix bitumen for road construction, the minister explained, is economical and will avail the country more kerosene for domestic use by Nigerians. Onelememen who was represented by Mr. Sunday Atane, an Engineer and  Director Highway, said  the Ministry has established laboratories in Sheda, Abuja, Lagos, Jos, Owerri, Kaduna whilst Maiduguri and Benin city offices are almost completed to ensure that materials used for constructions of roads are up to standards.

Also speaking, Mallam Bukar Goni Aji, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, urged participants at the workshop to update themselves in all aspects of quality control in order  to effectively carry out the necessary tests and procedures and ensure that construction companies use standard materials for road projects in the country.

By Favour Nnabugwu
Source -

March 3, 2012

Transporting Bitumen - Rail or Pipeline ?

Bitumen pipeline already exists - rail

Transporting tar sands oil by rail to Prince Rupert’s deep-water port would be far less costly and much less environmentally disruptive than the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposed from Bruderheim, Alberta, across northern British Columbia to Kitimat.

Many of us railroaders in northern British Columbia can’t help but wonder why there should be a pipeline past our back door wilderness when at our front door there already is a first-class railway that can do the job with five times the capacity in less than half the time and less cost, and with more good-paying jobs - and it is under-used.” Prince Rupert has a super port which is one of the deepest water ports in the world served by the railway for high-volume loading of coal and grain onto ocean tankers. The super port has been there for more than 25 years. Yet Enbridge plans to build a new marine port in the sensitive Douglas Channel at Kitimat, which is 85 kilometres from open water.

CN Rail could move 2.6 million barrels from eastern Alberta to Prince Rupert daily with current infrastructure, while the proposed Enbridge pipeline could move only a half million barrels a day to port.
If the pipeline can carry only half a million barrels, you can see they would require more pipelines to increase capacity. Saskatchewan has also expressed a desire to transport some of their oil to the Western market by rail as  well.

Alberta will soon be doubling oil production in less than 10 years, according to Alberta government and oil media forecasts. As volume increases, Enbridge would already have their foot in the door and would be looking for a second and third pipeline that would further disturb the virgin wilderness.
Rail would  also be  flexible in that they would be able to adjust the number of cars as demand increases or decreases.

The pipeline would cost around $5.5 billion to construct. By contrast, modifications and upgrades required for the rail transport of bitumen, or crude oil, to the port at Prince Rupert would cost only about $100 million, according to information in recent statements by Glen Perry, president of Altex Energy Ltd.
Would you rather spend $6 billion or close to zero?

Pipelines are less efficient in transporting crude oil than rail cars because they can only carry the actual petroleum to 70 per cent of their capacity. The remaining 30 per cent of the pipeline capacity is taken up by a diluent required for lubricating the oil to make it run under pressure.

When it reaches its destination at the coast, the diluent is separated and sent back in a parallel pipeline to eastern Alberta to re-enter the main pipeline again. So a pipeline can carry only a 70-per-cent load - almost doubling transportation costs- whereas rail cars don’t require the diluent and can carry a 100-per-cent load.”

CN Rail has upgraded the line between Jasper and Prince Rupert to a first-class rail standard. It has the latest technology available on railroads - that is, automatic signals and computerized systems for traffic control.

They have upgraded to the highest-standard rails, with sensors that can detect overheated wheels and bearings and send an alarm signal immediately to the computers in the dispatcher’s office.
Train derailments have occurred mainly on second-class branch lines that aren’t always kept up to the same standard as the main lines. The main lines from Jasper to Prince Rupert, and from Jasper to Vancouver, are of first-class status, capable of handling high-volume traffic with good management and maintenance.
When volume eventually reaches the single-rail maximum, it’s easy to add another track to make it a double track, without disturbing any virgin wilderness.

Most dispatchers, or rail traffic controllers, know that double tracks can handle three times the capacity of a single track because there are no opposing movements. Mountainous terrain poses far greater challenges for pipelines than the flat land or low rolling hills of the Prairies.

I have worked as dispatcher in both the Prairies and the mountains and am familiar with both. There’s absolutely no comparison in terrain. I remember my father’s, grandfather’s and neighbours’ farms with a pipeline through their land in Saskatchewan; and even there the occasional pipeline rupture occurred over the years, although they never seemed to make the news.

It was very simple to get immediate access and make repairs to minimize serious damage.
It’s almost impossible to expect the same access and repairs to pipelines in the rugged wilderness of BC.
People should be reminded that a pipeline burst near Chetwynd in the summer of 2000 that contaminated the source of that community’s water supply. Pipeline proponents talk about the jobs to be created. Employment-wise the railway would probably provide more jobs in northern British Columbia than the pipeline could.

“When Tumbler Ridge was developed in the 1980’s, we heard a lot of complaints about British Columbia residents not getting the jobs because contractors were brought in from Alberta with Alberta workers, at the expense of BC workers. This we would not want to see happen again. The race is on between Enbridge and CN Rail to transport crude oil 1,200 kilometres from Alberta to Prince Rupert or Kitimat.

Transport of the oil by rail makes far more economic and environmental sense than a pipeline over unusually rugged terrain and vulnerable wilderness, and it would also provide far more permanent employment and benefits to northern British Columbia as a whole.

Alf Nunweiler,
Prince George.

Nunweiler was NDP MLA for Fort George from 1972-1975 and was BC Northern Affairs minister during that period. He is retired after 42 years with CN Rail.

Source -

March 2, 2012

Bitumen- Gas Interaction Analysis

Microfluidic Chip for Bitumen-Gas Interaction Analysis

A research group from the University of Toronto has developed a method, wherein a microfluidic chip is used for examining the bitumen behavior in reservoirs. The time and expenses for analysis of bitumen-gas interaction in bitumen and heavy oil reservoirs will be minimized through this method.

The research team analyzed the behavior of highly pressurized CO2 on bitumen using the chips. Through this latest method, the measurement of gas diffusion in heavy oils will become easier for fossil energy industries.
Heavy oils like bitumen cannot be extracted with ease due to their thickness and poor flowing characteristics. Usage of CO2-rich gas injections is considered as one of the vital methods for extracting heavy oils. These injections liquefy bitumen and make extraction easier.

A Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering of the University of Toronto, Dr. David Sinton and Dr. Hossein Fadaei, a postdoctoral fellow used a tiny microchip made up of glass to simulate a pore into the reservoir of rock. The width of the channels in the pore is 50 ยต.
First, CO2 is added at low pressure in the device. This is followed by injecting a small quantity of the bitumen sample to the chip’s centre. Finally, from both ends of the chip, CO2 with high pressure is injected. This caused a bulging in the oil which can be measured over time.
Sinton said that only a nanolitre quantity of sample has been used and the method can be completed by 10 min. Several tests can be done simultaneously using this method within a minimum time. Hence, the method is both affordable and simple.

The process will be useful for oil and gas companies as well as to researchers. Since the sample size is smaller, even unsafe solvents can be used.

By Cameron Chai
The study was funded partly by Carbon Management Canada.
The report has been published in the journal, Energy & Fuels.