Aquamation: Even Greener Than Cremation?
    By Hank Campbell | October 25th 2010 12:09 PM | 1 comment | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    If you're like me, not only do you want to be buried, you want to be buried with your treasure in a vast underground labyrinth dug from the stone, behind a series of traps and secret doors, and your treasure will be in the very last room with my undead Lich guarding it.

    Want your inheritance, descendants?  Bring a sword.


    But other people have long been more environmentally responsible and made the 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust' route a little more direct than a decomposing coffin much less a concrete, subterranean bunker.   They get cremated.

    But for others, even cremation is not environmentally terrific enough.    Some of the sillier estimates are that cremation releases 350 lb. of greenhouse gases per corpse.   Yikes!  Dead people are taking the planet with them!

    If you care about your grandchildren being able to ride hoverboards and wear retractable clothing in the "Back to the Future II" world that is only 5 years away and want them to have a pristine environment to hoverboard in, aquamation can help you make a difference.   

    What is aquamation?   It's alkaline hydrolysis, where your final remains are dipped in a potassium-hydroxide-and-water solution for four hours.  At the end of that time, nothing is left but bones and those are crushed and presented to your family in a decorative container.

    Cremation versus your flesh chemically separated from your bones, which are then crushed into a fine powder.

    The Australian company behind it says the remaining liquid does not contain your DNA and it uses only 10% of the energy of a cremation.  

    Is it new?  No, it's resomation, which has been used for animals afflicted with mad cow disease - but it's an interesting idea to take commercial.    They say it is environmentally neutral enough you can (Ph balance issues resolved) even use the remaining solution to water your plants.  

    It's interesting stuff but don't get me wrong, I am not giving up on the Lich thing.   Want to impress me, neuroscientists?  Figure out how to keep my brain going, including glowing eyes, forever.


    This reminds me of John George Haigh, who dissolved the bodies of his victims in sulfuric acid.

    I also think back to our 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic, where over 10 million sheep and cattle were culled.  The hydrolysis process was not available then, and large numbers of carcasses were incinerated.  Leading up to the general election of that year, many leading politicians made some very crass statements about this and that, which led the calypso singer Alexander D Great to sing a song with the refrain:

      East and West, North and South
      See dem put dere foot in de mouth
      We  must wait for a lull
      Take advantage and cull
      All de politicián.

    French butchers were marking their meat VF, meaning Viande Française – that is, until someone pointed out that the letters could also stand for Vache Folle.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England