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Petro-By-Products >> Natural Asphalt / Gilsonite
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Gilsonite or Asphaltum , Natural Asphalt is similar to a hard petroleum Asphalt and is often called a natural Asphalt, Asphaltite, uintaite, or Asphaltum. Gilsonite is soluble in aromatic and aliphatic solvents, as well as petroleum Asphalt. Due to its unique compatibility, Gilsonite is frequently used to harden softer petroleum products. Gilsonite in mass is a shiny, black substance similar in appearance to the mineral obsidian.

It is brittle and can be easily crushed into a dark brown powder. Gilsonite is found below the earth's surface in vertical veins or seams that are generally between two and six feet in width. The veins are nearly parallel to each other and are oriented in a northwest to southeast direction. The vein will show up on the surface as a thin outcropping and gradually widen as it goes deeper. Due to the narrow mining face, Gilsonite is mined today, much like it was 50 or 100 years ago, the primary difference is that modern miners use pneumatic chipping hammers and mechanical hoists.

  There are various grades of Gilsonite, the most common ones are given below:
  1. Gilsonite  with ash content up to 5%, moisture up to 1% and mesh size 30, 40, 100, and 150.
  2. Gilsonite   with ash content up to 10%, moisture up to 1% and mesh size 30, 40, 100 and 150.
  3. Gilsonite   with ash content up to 15%, moisture up to 1% and mesh size 30, 40, 100 and 150.

The use of Gilsonite in Oil Drilling Industry
Iranian Gilsonite is used in drilling mud fluids and oil well cementing. The addition of specially-treated Gilsonite to water-based drilling fluids helps minimize hole washout by stabilizing troublesome shale’s, and seals off highly permeable sands while reducing torque and drag. The addition of Gilsonite to oil well cements reduces slurry weight without loss of compressive strength and acts as an effective bridging and plugging agent to seal fractures in weak formations while cementing.

The use of Gilsonite in Asphalt and Road Paving
Iran Gilsonite is used as a performance-enhancing agent for Asphalt mixes. Gilsonite can partially or totally replace, or complement, the use of SBS polymers in modified Asphalts at a fraction of the cost. Gilsonite-modified Asphalts have higher stability, reduced deformation, reduced temperature susceptibility and increased resistance to water stripping than non-modified Asphalts. Gilsonite is also used to make both solvent-based and emulsion pavement sealers with superior appearance and weathering properties.

The Use of Gilsonite for Pipe coating
Gilsonite is used for preventing the pipes from corrosion and it acts as an additive in pipe isolator, which increases the pipe life significantly. Gilsonite is used in different industries as a resin for waterproofing purposes, for example in Automobile industry it is used as an additive in coating car’s under body.

The use of Gilsonite in Foundry
Iranian Gilsonite is combined with coal and other ingredients as an additive in foundry sands to insure the quality of the molded part. In sand case, by adding Gilsonite and Asphalts at approximately one third the level of sea coal the pitch had the same 900F (482.2C) volatiles. At this level, loss on ignition with Asphalt, and Gilsonite was less than 50% of that obtained with seacoal and pitch while the Gilsonite and Asphalts evolved less total gas when compared to seacoal and pitch Gilsonite had the least visible smoke generated in the laboratory tests. The lower gas evolution should reduce ventilation load on the pouring floor. The physical property relationships developed in new sand mixes were confirmed on system sand using Gilsonite as an additive. Casting finish of a Gilsonite mix was equal to seacoal.

The use of Gilsonite in chemical products
Iranian Gilsonite combines with many other chemicals and materials that take advantage of its unique physical and chemical properties.


Since Gilsonite, a solid hydrocarbon, was introduced to the oil industry in August 1957 as a cement additive, several thousands of jobs have been performed using the material. These operations have included primary cementing through lost-circulation zones of surface, intermediate, and production pipe in both single and multiple stages as well as various remedial jobs such assqueezing, re-cementing above inadequate fill-up, and plugging back to reestablish drilling-fluid circulation. Designed primarily as combination low-density lost-circulation slurry, Gilsonite has yielded excellent results in areas of incompetent formations as well as in other types of lost-circulation zones. Field results generally show that fill-up of 80 to 90 percent can be obtained in areas where only 50 to 60 percent fill-up was possible with other types of slurries. The unique properties of Gilsonite such as low specific gravity, particle-size distribution, impermeability, resistance to corrosive fluids, chemical inertness, and low water requirements result in a slurry having exceptional bridging properties, low slurry weight, compatibility with other slurry additives, and relatively high compressive strength when compared to other slurries of the same weight.

The use of Gilsonite in Steel Making Additives
Gilsonite is an ingredient in several additives used in the production of steel. It is used in Limestone, Lime, Magnesium, and Calcium Carbide additive systems. The function of these additives is to remove impurities such as sulfur, silica, and phosphorus from the molten steel and move them to the molten slag layer. Gilsonite fulfills several roles as a component in Steel Making Additives. First, Gilsonite is approximately 75% volatile at 1900F, and when added to the molten steel it promotes the mixing of the additives so the chemical reactions that will move the impurities to the molten slag layer can take place. Next, the volitiles that are given off are high in lustrous carbon, which will further reduce the Iron Oxide to steel. Although CO reduces most of the Fe3+ by indirect reduction, a portion must be reduced directly by elemental carbon. Finally, the portion of Gilsonite that is not volatilized is a very highly structured Asphaltene structure that is nearly pure carbon. This will add carbon content to the steel.

The use of Gilsonite in Ink and Paint Sector
Gilsonite is used in ink manufacture principally as a carbon black dispersing agent or wetting agent. It performs this function at concentrations of 2% to 5% of the finished ink recipe. Gilsonite itself is a hard, high softening point resin, and it could be used in the finished ink formula for its resinous abilities to offset the hydrocarbon and other resins. However, this requires a concentration on 10% to 15% Gilsonite in the finished ink recipe before it performs this function. This is possible, but difficult, because of dealing with Gilsonite's ash and aromatic contents at such high concentrations. At such high concentrations, there is too much as to filter, the viscosities start too high and increase even higher, etc. Therefore, most ink makers use Gilsonite at low concentrations for carbon black dispersing only and use other resins such as "C5/C9" hydrocarbons or modified rosin phenolics for the ink's resinous ingredients.

The Use of Gilsonite for Penetrating Wood Stain Base
A color and resin base for interior and exterior oil-based penetrating wood stains. Ideal for both smooth and rough-cut wood, Imparts water-proofing properties to protective coatings and enhances natural wood grain. Excellent weather ability, Resists water, abrasion and discoloration.

The Use of Gilsonite as an adhesive additive
Because of Gilsonite adherence abilities it is used in many industries as an additive to increase the materials adhesion considerably, for example in some countries such as Turkey coal is manufactures in cubic shapes and to preserve the cubic shape Gilsonite is added to the mixture and acts as a glue to hold the material together.

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