The raw material now known as Gilsonite was discovered in the Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah, U.S of America. It is clear that the Native Americans who lived in the state of Utah were familiar with this material, yet there was neither commercial nor scientific use of it until the pioneers entered the Continent. During the 1860’s it was considered and in the mid-1880's Samuel Henry Gilson began to promote it as a waterproof coating for wooden pilings, as an insulation for wire cable, and as a unique varnish. after which it became known as "Gilsonite". Gilson’s name became linked through his persistent search for its uses and markets. In 1886, he and a partnership formed the company to mine and market gilsonite on a commercial scale and he is credited with the first real commercialization of the product.
Nature of Gilsonite:
Gilsonite is a natural resinous rock formed of a different types of hydrocarbons with special characteristics. This natural asphalt is similar to a hard petroleum asphalt. Gilsonite, also called natural asphalt, rock asphalt, uintaite, asphaltite.
The color of Gilsonite is basically black and often shiny in shape of lumps, similar in appearance to the mineral obsidian. It is a soft rock and brittle and it can be made into different mesh sizes powder.
Major component of Gilsonite is Carbon, while it contains several other elements including Nitrogen,Oxygen, Sulphur and some volatile matters. It’s unique chemical and physical properties make Gilsonite a high-performance, multipurpose additive. The low oxygen content relative to nitrogen suggests that much of the nitrogen has basic functionality.
One important factor to consider in Gilsonite is that the Ash Content. The main reason for this is that Gilsonite mining still will carry sands and rocks within the mined product. These particles in extracted Gilsonite are inseparable in some cases.
Gilsonite is generally soluble in aliphatic and aromatic solvents at ambient temperatures. The rate of solution will depend on the type of solvent, the type of mixing, and the grade of Gilsonite. Due to its unique compatibility, gilsonite is frequently used to harden softer petroleum products.
Applications of Gilsonite:
Gilsonite has an extremely wide range of uses; these uses have changed over time with new technology and industrial needs.It’s products are currently being widely used in water based, oil based, and synthetic based mud systems worldwide. Current uses are discussed in the following subsections…
1- Drilling Fluid Loss Control
For many years, Gilsonite has been used in the oilfield as an additive in drilling fluids. Gilsonite, in various grades and formulations, has been used to combat borehole instability problems, provide lubricity, especially in highly deviated holes, and more recently as a bridging agent to combat differential pressure sticking and provide a law invasion coring fluid.
2- Oil Sector
Gilsonite is used in drilling mud fluids and oil well cementing. This mineral, in a range of softening points and particle sizes, is a standard ingredient in oil-based drilling muds used in shales and other difficult geological formations. The addition of specially-treated Gilsonite to water-based drilling fluids helps minimize hole washout by stabilizing troublesome shales, and seals off highly permeable sands while reducing torque and drag.
3- Asphalt and Road Paving Sector
Gilsonite is used as a performance enhancing agent for asphalt mixes, achieving higher performance grades and incorporate perfectly into the asphalt blend with no need for high shear milling as is the case with many other modifiers. Gilsonite-modified asphalts have higher stability, reduced deformation, reduced temperature susceptibility and increased resistance to water stripping than non modified asphalts.
4- Foundry Sector
Gilsonite is combined with coal and other ingredients as an additive in foundry sands to insure the quality of the molded part by improving mold release and the overall finish of metal castings.
5- Chemical Products Sector
Gilsonite combines with many other chemicals and materials that take advantage of its unique physical and chemical properties. Binder and coating applications in metallurgical, wood product, refractory and other industries further demonstrate the versatility and usefulness of this remarkable material.
6- Inks and Paints Sector
Gilsonite Resin is widely used as the primary carbon black wetting agent for black news inks and headset and gravure inks. Various concentrations of Gilsonite Resin are used to manufacture law-rub-off news inks with superior gloss and tack properties. Special grades of Gilsonite called Selects are also standard ingredients in black ink formulations and are used as additives in asphaltic paints and varnishes.