Increasing urbanization across the globe is steering the development of roads, highways, and motorways, especially in developing countries. In India, the government had approved over USD 29.83 million up to 2018 towards the construction of highways joining major cities in the country. Moreover, the total number of national highways had increased to 122,434 km in FY 18. Reportedly, a total of 200,000 km of national highways are to be completed by the end of 2022.
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Bitumen, in essence, is an integral component of asphalt, which is primarily used to build streets, roads, and to meet the requirements of other infrastructure construction activities. Owing to the evident increase in construction worldwide to meet the burgeoning demands of people, global bitumen market share is witnessing unprecedented growth.
With respect to the type of product, the industry is bifurcated into oxidized, cutback, paving, emulsion and polymer modified bitumen. Global bitumen industry share is anticipated to cross USD 66.92 billion in value by 2027, with substantial consumption across adhesive, waterproofing and insulation applications.
Also referred to as penetrating grade bitumen, paving grade finds considerable scope in the construction and industrial sector due to the various types of manufacturing processes and favorable material properties. These are particularly developed at different viscosities and are ideal for road construction and the development of asphalt pavements with superior properties, while offering a unique cohesion and stability to the bituminous mix.
Temperature susceptibility, improved correlation at lower temperature, asphalt binder properties and cost-effectiveness are some of the benefits associated with the adoption of paving grade bitumen.
Widespread application in roofing applications
The construction industry in the U.S. develops over USD 1.3 trillion worth structures annually owing to the constant developments in IT, healthcare and the residential sector. Bitumen is an essential raw material used in the construction of public and private infrastructure. Advantages associated with the use of bitumen in the industry include low melting point, color variety, and the ability to be recycled and adhesive nature.
Apart from the product's robust applications in the construction sector, bitumen is widely used in the manufacturing of industrial items like roofing material, adhesives, insulation and sealing.
Advanced bitumen roof technology provides greater advantages as compared to its alternatives. Bitumen roofs are one of the long-lasting flat roofing materials. The product is highly durable and has a high-tensile strength that may not develop cracks. Additionally, they are rated against wind, hail and fire and are unlikely to be damaged in case of most weather extremities.
Booming construction industry in Asia Pacific
In terms of geographical expansion, Asia Pacific could emerge as one of the most significant revenue grounds for bitumen industry. Surging industrial developments owing to FDIs in the region has propelled construction of SEZs, corporate offices and manufacturing units.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in 2018, the FDI in emerging countries in Asia rose to USD 512 billion. Increasing economic developments via higher investment by foreign and regional entities will magnify the scope of construction across APAC. Subsequently, requirements for roadways, energy efficient buildings and for adhesives used in various applications, driving bitumen demand.
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Factors warranting safer use of bitumen
Bitumen when used during the construction of roads possess a serious threat to human health, if not handled safely. Exposure to the fumes may lead to severe cases of skin rashes, headaches, fatigue, reduced appetite, eye and throat irritation and skin cancer. Workers handling bitumen need to be informed regarding the hazards and safe work procedures. Suitable PPE need to be provided.
Additionally, bitumen is often handled and stored at high temperatures, making it extremely important to take fire prevention seriously. Although safety concerns have hampered bitumen consumption up to a certain extent among construction and roofing companies, the favorable properties of the material and improving construction techniques are gradually increasing its usage.
Rising development of roadways and highways to expand geographical reach of businesses and people will positively influence bitumen market share. With the government and private entities increasingly investing in enhancing the infrastructural outlook, the product will witness growing adoption.
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