and tested for more factors. Each year,
Bitumar introduces new products that can
make paving in colder weather possible, for
example, or can create a smoother runway
for an airport.
Efficiency has increased at the plant by
the addition of a 36-car rail siding and three
new tanks. The facility also boasts a fully
automated rack that allows the blending of
three grades of product simultaneously.
In the forefront and the background
of every aspect of the plant’s operation is
safety. “Liquid asphalt flows like water when
it is heated, and that can be very dangerous
for anyone around it,” said Jesus Zuniga,
LIQUID ASPHALT’S Many Applications
At room temperature, liquid asphalt is semi-solid enough to walk on.
In order to keep it flowing through the 10 miles of pipeline at Bitumar’s
Baltimore terminal, it must stay heated to 250 degrees as it moves from a
railcar or from the pier.
At the plant, it is stored in heated tanks and can be mixed with various
additives to create specialty products for customers depending upon their
needs. Different applications require different grades and mixtures of
additives such as polymers.
For millennia, liquid asphalt’s sticky, waterproofing qualities have kept
humans building. According to the Book of Genesis, the Tower of Babel
was constructed using liquid asphalt as cement. The Egyptians used it
in mummification processes. Today, liquid asphalt is used primarily in
road construction and roofing, and it has become a far more versatile and
complex product than the ancient natural deposits.
Bitumar’s Baltimore operations supervisor.
Training is a critical component of an
employee’s career at Bitumar, as workers
then become mentors for newer workers.
“There is no school where you learn how
to work carefully in this environment,” said
Zuniga. “We look for people who are good
at working by themselves but who will
watch out for others and help them.”
While liquid asphalt may not be a
glamorous cargo, remember that you have
Bitumar’s safe and efficient handling of it
to thank on your next drive to work.
Bitumar Plant Manager Cortie
Rolison is a chemical engineer
by training.
May/June 2013
The Port of Baltimore
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