The Gilsonite (also known as “uintahite,” “asphaltum” or asphaltite), named by Samuel Gilson, is a natural resinous hydrocarbon derived from petroleum historically discovered in the 1860s in Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah and also present in Colorado, Iran, and Colombia.
Gilsonite is soluble in aromatic and aliphatic solvents, as well as in petroleum asphalt. Thanks to its unique properties, is often used to harden softer petroleum products.
A significant component of gilsonite is carbon; it also contains several other elements including nitrogen and sulfur and some volatile compounds. It is fragile and can easily be reduced to a dark brown powder. When added to bituminous cement or hot mixed asphalt in production, Gilsonite helps to produce significantly higher stability and resistance mixtures for flooring.
Uses and applications of Gilsonite
Control of fluid leaks in drilling conditions
For many years, Gilsonite has been used in oil fields as an additive in drilling fluids to solve the problems of instability in a well, provide lubrication (especially in highly deviated holes) and as bridging agent to fight differential pressure. Several studies and researches have well documented how Gilsonite can drastically reduce the danger of hole collapse in subsoils containing water-sensitive clays.
Gilsonite-based products are currently widely used in muddy or water-based, oil-based and synthetic solutions. Blended Gilsonite has proven to be very effective in all water-based systems.
The addition of specially treated Gilsonite to water-based drilling fluids helps minimize the drilling hole washout by stabilizing troublesome shales and seals off highly permeable sands while reducing torque and drag. The addition of Gilsonite to oil well cement reduces weight in suspension without loss of compressive strength and acts as an active bridging and plugging agent, to seal fractures in weak formations during cementation.
Asphalt and road paving
Gilsonite is used as an agent to improve the performance of asphalt mixtures. The flooring modified compounds with Gilsonite integrate perfectly into the asphalt mixture without the need for milling the road surface.
Asphalts modified with Gilsonite have more excellent stability, reduced deformation, reduced sensitivity to temperature, and higher resistance to water extraction compared to unmodified asphalt.
Gilsonite is also used to make solvent and emulsion-based floor sealants, and weather-resistant properties.
Gilsonite is combined with coal and other ingredients as an additive in foundry sands to ensure a higher quality of the molded part by improving mold release and overall finish of metal castings.
Gilsonite combines with many other chemical substances and materials that employ its unique physical and chemical properties, to create binders and coatings in the following sectors: metallurgical, wood, refractory and other sectors that can exploit its unique properties.
Inks and paints
Gilsonite resin is widely used as the primary wetting agent, for inks and gravure inks. Gilsonite resin advantageously competes with petroleum-based hydrocarbon resins, phenolic resins and metal resinates, which can be completed or replaced in varying degrees.
The special types of Gilsonite called Selects are also standard ingredients in black ink formulations and are used as additives in paints and asphalt paints.