The hierarchical structure of bitumen of different aging states at the molecular level and nanoscale

Fangjin Li, Yuhong Wang, Kecheng Zhao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The realistic structure of bitumen at the microscopic level, although of great value to researchers and practitioners, has not been thoroughly and quantitatively examined. This study characterized twelve bitumen samples of various origins and aging states by fraction analysis, scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM), and gel permeation chromatography (GPC). Microstructures greater than 10 nm in STEM images were evaluated by their coverage areas, the longest dimensions, and aspect ratios. Microstructures and molecules of bitumen solutions that pass the filter of a pore size of 0.2 μm and the filter of a pore size of 0.45 μm were evaluated by the overall distributions of GPC chromatograms and the proportions in different size ranges. Combined information from fraction analysis, STEM image analysis, and GPC results reveals the realistic distributions of microstructures and molecules in bitumen at the molecular level and nanoscale. The effects of compositional and structural changes of bitumen on viscosities of the bitumen and its maltene phase were also evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123791
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Asphaltene
  • Bitumen
  • GPC
  • Hierarchical structure
  • Microscopic level
  • STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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