While it might be a stretch as a tool, this was too good to pass up when we
heard about the first commercial alkaline hydrolysis machine (read
body liquefier) installed in a funeral home in Florida. With this
machine, which really is just a special process that involves some
pressure and heated alkaline water, we an can literally turn a human
body into liquid. This seems like a reasonable thing to do since it
is estimated that a human body is about 60% water for adult males
and 70% for adult females. Seeing how a significant amount of a human
body is water, wouldn’t it be easier to turn it back to water rather
than trying to burn it up with cremation? Some are even toting this
as a “green” alternative to cremation.
The initial machine has been installed at a funeral home in St. Petersburg,
Florida and it will be used for the first time in the coming weeks.
The installation was only made possible after state legislature in
Florida approved the use of the new technology. Florida is one of
seven US states in which the process has now been legalized. The
manufacturer, Resomation Ltd, which is based in Glasgow, Scotland,
claims that their process produces a third less greenhouse gas than
cremation, uses one-seventh the energy, and allows for the complete
separation of dental amalgam (teeth fillings) for safe disposal. In the United
Kingdom, mercury from amalgam vaporized in crematoria is blamed for
up to 16% of the airborne mercury emissions, and many crematoria are
currently installing mercury filtration systems to better meet
reduced emission targets.
The system works by submerging the body in a solution of water and
potassium hydroxide which is pressurized to 10 atmospheres (147 psi)
and heated to 256 degrees Fahrenheit for between two-and-a-half and
three hours. The body tissue is then dissolved and the liquid poured
into the municipal water system. Tests have proven the effluent is
sterile and contains no DNA, and poses no environmental risk. Since
the bones do not breakdown in this process, they are removed
from the unit and processed in a cremulator, which is the same
machine that is used to crush bone fragments following cremation into
ash. Metals including mercury, artificial joints and implants are
safely recovered at this point as well.
Choices are expanding… now you can plant your loved one in a
traditional cemetery, cremate them or, thanks to liquefaction
coming to a funeral home near you, you can flush them down the drain.
Coincidentally, this cartoon showed up in the Sunday paper… which gave us a chuckle: