Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 50, Issue 20, pp 6586–6600 | Cite as

Importance of thermal gradient in the bitumen bees genesis

  • Manuel Mercé
  • Hassan Saadaoui
  • François Dole
  • Lionel Buisson
  • Ahmed Bentaleb
  • David Ruggi
  • Véronique SchmittEmail author
  • Rénal BackovEmail author
Original Paper


Bitumen can be regarded as a complex colloidal suspension. Indeed, the heaviest molecules in bitumen, the asphaltenes, are known to self-associate to form solid particles suspended in a fluid called maltenes. Bitumen is also composed of a crystallizable fraction that partitions between asphaltenes and maltenes. This complex colloidal system exhibits peculiar patterns at their surface called “bees.” By varying the bitumen formulation and also tuning process parameters such as the temperature cooling rate, we demonstrate the role of the various components: asphaltenes, maltenes, and the crystallizable fraction on the bee existence and we evidence that the bee formation results from a complex coupling between different physico-chemical phenomena such as phase separation, crystallization, and buckling. We then propose a mechanism of bee genesis based on the thermal properties of the various fractions and especially on the heat capacity of both asphaltenes and maltenes. We demonstrate that a thermal gradient in the sample is required for the formation of bees and put into evidence the importance of kinetic aspects. We also discuss the bitumen general bulk properties.


Atomic Force Microscopy Cool Rate Bitumen Cold Spot Differential Scanning Calorimetry Experiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the Association Nationale Recherche Technologie (ANRT) for the financial support of this study through the CIFRE contract number 2012/1210.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Mercé
    • 1
  • Hassan Saadaoui
    • 1
  • François Dole
    • 1
  • Lionel Buisson
    • 1
  • Ahmed Bentaleb
    • 1
  • David Ruggi
    • 1
  • Véronique Schmitt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rénal Backov
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Université de Bordeaux, CRPP UPR CNRS 8641PessacFrance

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