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March 28, 2011

Water Cremation


A September 16, 2010 article in The Economist about the rise of "green funerals" listed a number of changes happening in the moribund funeral industry, among them shared hearses, using home-grown flowers at funerals, and coffins made from cardboard.

Along with such low-tech innovations, new technologies such as "water cremation" or alkaline hydrolysis, where a corpse is placed into a heated solution of water and potassium hydroxide, and in a few hours dissolves into an inorganic liquid which can be used as fertilizer and a white ash-like residue, are becoming  commercially sustainable.

"Aquamation Industries, an Australian company, opened a water-cremation facility in Queensland last month. Resomation, a British firm, will install equipment in Florida by the year-end. Its founder, Sandy Sullivan [top, left, between engineering director Craig Sinclair and the company's brand-new Resomator S750 water-cremation tank], says conventional cremation produces four times as much CO2 as does this process."

Then there's freeze-drying, where "The body is freeze-dried in liquid nitrogen, then vibrated so that it dissolves into a fine powder. Further processes evaporate water and remove things like mercury. The residue can be put into a shallow grave and turns to mulch in about a year. Observers reckon that the Swedish company which developed the idea, Promessa, has promised much and delivered little. But Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, its founder, says that franchises are now in place in South Korea and Britain, and that the need for crematoria to comply with mercury-abatement rules could also prompt orders in Sweden itself."

March 28, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Personally I don't really believe in this new technology.

Posted by: Lester - Adult Tricycle | Apr 3, 2011 9:50:50 AM

Quick - run the entire supply of these to Japan - we just might be able to recapture or sequester the radionuclides from the corpses of those who are killed by exposure.

OTOH, one of these would be really handy to have on hand if one were a fairly incompetent surgeon. Buried mistakes can be disinterred and subjected to a decent postmortem examination. Nobody has to lie with the lye.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Mar 30, 2011 7:01:28 PM

Not sure how green it is, it sounds very energy intensive. I plan (if I can get my surviving relatives to agree to it) to be buried in a vertical, post bored hole with an acorn and some compost inserted in the most suitable orifice (depending on which way up they feel like burying me). That said, I'd not really be bothered if I was told on my death bed that I was going to be left on the verge for the council to pick up on bin day.

Posted by: Graeme | Mar 30, 2011 6:25:43 AM


Posted by: Lawlibrarian | Mar 28, 2011 11:49:42 PM

Better yet.......Soylent Green!

Posted by: Dr. Kranky | Mar 28, 2011 8:06:33 PM

You have no idea how appropriate the alkaline whatsit would be for me. I have already been accused of attempting it on myself in an ordinary bathtub.

Posted by: Becs | Mar 28, 2011 4:16:10 PM

That CandyLuv Thang-Thang is something else.
Beeyotch stole my idea.

Posted by: Flautist | Mar 28, 2011 4:11:37 PM

The freeze-dried corpse powder, now there's your Soul Dust.

Hmm, I see a macabre line of cosmetics...

Posted by: CandyLuv Thang-Thang | Mar 28, 2011 4:07:03 PM

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