How to Buy Bitumen and Bitumen products In Kenya



Kenya is the main corridor for bitumen importation into the central African countries. She imports thousands of tons of Bitumen annually to cater to the many construction projects that use bitumen and other petrochemical products. Its considered to be one of the best in Kenya.

Bitumen PEN grades (grade 80/100, bitumen grade 60/70) and bitumen cutback emulsions such as MC 30, MC 70, MC 250 and MC 800 are more popular in Kenya’s road paving and constructions. Their prices differ depending on the type and grade of bitumen, and so does the application process.

Buying Bitumen involves;

Step 1: Get A Bitumen Supplier In Kenya

Kenya has several bitumen processing plants. Your supplier should serve your need using the 4 Ps of Marketing that is; Product, price, place and promotion. Consider choosing a supplier that supplies bitumen and one that manufactures other wide range road grade bituminous products, industrial water proofing products and base paints.

Step 2: Product categories

Bitumen and Bitumen products are classified into different categories:

Category 1: Various Bitumens  

  1. a)    The penetration grades

These bitumens are specified by the penetration and softening point test but designated by the penetration range. They have thermoplastic properties hence soften on heating and harden on cooling. The penetration grades include 80/100, 60/70, 40/50 etc.

Straight Run Bitumen

  1. b)  The oxidized or Blown Bitumen Grades.

Oxidized or blown bitumen grades are produced by passing hot air through penetration grade bitumens under controlled temperature conditions. This process gives the bitumen more rubbery properties than the penetration grade. The oxidized Bitumens include 115/15, 85/25, 90/40, 75/25, 85/25, 90/15, 105/35, 150/5, 95/25 etc.

  1. c)    Viscosity grade Bitumens

Viscosity grades include VG10, VG20, VG30, and VG40. The higher the number, the harder the bitumen in the viscosity grading system.

  1. d)   Polymer Modified Bitumens (PMBs)

Polymer modified bitumens (PMB) are made using polymers to change the elastic behavior of the bitumen in order to meet different stresses. The most commonly used polymer for bitumen modification is Styrene–butadiene–styrene (SBS). These bitumens cost higher than straight run bitumens but have more economic benefits in the lower costs of road repairs

Category 2: Bitumen Emulsions

Bituminous emulsions or tack coats come in both positively charged (cationic) and negatively charged (Anionic) properties. Emulsions are graded as a percentage of the amount of bitumen or binder content and the stability of the emulsion.

  1. a)    Cationic emulsions

They are widely used in road construction processes. They constitute of bitumen, water, a salt, an acid and an emulsifying agent which gives them a positive chemical charge. They have lesser environment pollution compared to cutbacks that are oil based and flammable. These emulsions include K1-40 K1-60, K1-70, K3-60, and K3-65.

Cationic Emulsions

  1. b)   Anionic emulsions

These consist of negatively charged drops of bitumen. The components repel each other after they are applied to a negatively charged surface. The emulsion breaks through the loss of water by evaporation. The anionic emulsions include A4-60, A3-60 among others.

Anionic Emulsions

Category 3: Bitumen Cutbacks

Bitumen cutbacks are bitumens whose viscosity is cut back using a lighter hydrocarbon for example kerosene, gasoline, diesel, industrial diesel or fuel oil. They are classified according to their viscosity rate and include MC-30, MC-70, RC-30, and RC-70.

Bitumen Cutbacks

How To Use Bitumen In Road Construction

Category 4: Industrial Water proofing grades

  1. a)    Black Bituminous liquid Membrane

Also called the black bituminous paint, it falls under the waterproofing products. It is manufactured from selected oxidized bitumen grades cut back with suitable hydrocarbon solvents. The end products form liquid flexible membrane solutions that can be applied either by hand or sprayed on surfaces such as outdoor decks, iron roofs, or balconies.

  1. b)   Fibrated Bitumens

Also known as Bitushield no 3, 5 and 7. They are thick high-quality coatings that finely seal tiny cracks and openings.

  1. c)    Bituminous Aluminum Paints

They work well as overcoats for surfaces that had been coated with other industrial paints. They have water-resistance and anti-corrosive properties.

Step 3: Bitumen testing

KEBS tests and approves the quality of all Bitumen and Bitumen products in Kenya. They check for; Viscosity test, Penetration test, Float test, Ductility test, Loss of heating test, Softening point test, Water content, Specific gravity test, and Flash and Fire point test.

Step 4: Packaging

Bitumen and bitumen products are transported in bitutainers (bulky), reconditioned steel drums, IBC tanks and pails. Good packaging ensures that there is no spillage during transit.

Step 5: Transportation

Molten bitumen that is transported under high temperature of up to 250°Centigrades should not be transported with edible goods. There should be no leaking to avoid evaporation, which leaves a solid residue.

Bitutainers For Bulk Bitumen Transportation

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