What is Gilsonite?

Gilsonite is a natural hydrocarbon which is a brittle and shiny material and highly brittle in case of high purity. The ore is black and its powder is chocolate brown. Basically, Gilsonite is formed when a proto-petroleum deposit is trying to elevate to surface and solidifying within the cracks and under pressure in millions of years the material becomes a solid shiny black source of Hydrocarbons.

What is gilsonite

It is a very pure resinous rock, formed of a complex combination of different kinds of hydrocarbons. This unique natural combination, rich in nitrogen and beta-carotenes and low in sulphur, is what makes Gilsonite so special. Its unique chemical and physical properties make Gilsonite a high-performance, multipurpose additive that is also a cost-effective solution.

Gilsonite powder is a common drilling mud additive, but it also is used in asphalt paving, roofing and construction paper, paint, ink, explosive, carbon electrodes, and various fuels. At the surface, Gilsonite ore dikes range from several millimetres to more than 5m thick; some are exposed for up to 39km but most are less than 5km in length.

This material is physically and chemically similar to coal (fossil fuel) and tar (oil products). Its main difference with coal is the softening and melting properties before burning and its main difference with tar is its softening and polar molecular properties. While Gilsonite is chemically similar to asphalt, it has many important differences including the higher softening point of bitumen compared to oil-derived asphalt, which turns Gilsonite into a unique substance. Unique properties of Gilsonite, has made it useful substance with unique physical and chemical properties in most applied industries. Nowadays, due to the unique properties of this material, more than 160 products are derived from it and the major ones are used in: ink industries, oil drilling (cementing the wells), drilling mud, foundry, optimizing special asphalts and insulation.

Gilsonite is combustible.

A skin, eye, and mucous membrane irritant. An allergen. Has been known to cause photo sensitization of skin. Flammable when exposed to heat or open flame. To fight fire, use water, foam, dry chemical, and CO2. When heated to decomposition it emits acrid smoke and irritating fumes.

Gilsonite History

Gilsonite or Natural Bitumen was discovered for the first time in USA during the 19th century. Originally Native Americans resident in Utah were familiar with the material and used it for different purposes such as Teeth Cavities and Waterproofing.

What is gilsonite

Samuel H. Gilson who was in horse trading business initially learnt about Gilsonite from Native Americans. By checking this shiny black material at the Columbia College School of Mines in 1865, Gilson found out that the material has over 95% of hydrocarbon content.

Most efforts by Gilson was Not Successful, but as a pioneer for the item, the material was named after Samual Gilson into the mineral Gilsonite. He finally sold his company under a firm in Saint Luis which renamed it to The Gilson Asphaltum Company.

There were developments in application of Gilsonite in Ink and drilling application and also big failures from John Kelly and American Gilsonite company to treat the material as source of Fuel.

Eventually Chevron was successful in promoting and researching Gilsonite and established the American Gilsonite Company which during 100 years has researched and supplied Gilsonite for variety of applications to over 70 countries.

Advantages of Gilsonite Usage
  • Readily soluble without heating in aromatic solvents and in most chlorinated solvents
  • High Asphaltene content
  • High solubility in organic solvents
  • High purity and consistent properties
  • High molecular weight
  • High in resin and Nitrogen content
Gilsonite uses in different industries like :

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