The Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in the West Midlands has recently approved the installation of a 300,000 pound ‘Resomator’ that will perform water cremations instead of the traditional fire cremation. The council has plans to start liquefying bodies at the Rowley Regis crematorium in an effort to be more eco-friendly. A traditional cremation uses temperatures as high as 1150 degrees Celsius and usually takes about 70 minutes for the body to be completely reduced to ash. Furthermore, according to the UK Burial and Cremation Education Trust, they say that the cremation process produces four times as much carbon dioxide as a burial.
Liquefying bodies, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, uses chemicals, pressure, and heat to dissolve bodies down to their bones in less than three hours. It also uses significantly less energy than a typical cremation. So far, the council is working with a UK company known as Resomation where they put the bodies in a pressurized chamber and the bodies are weighed to determine the amount of chemical mix needed to completely dissolve the body.
Then the tank is filled with a highly alkaline solution and heated to approximately 152 degrees Celsius to help dissolve the body. The remaining objects such as teeth, bones, artificial hips and fillings, will be rinsed and ground down and returned back to family members in an urn.
However, a source at Water UK has serious doubts about flushing human remains back into the public water supply (albeit after two filtrations.) The source said: ‘this is an absolute first in the UK, we have serious concerns about the public acceptability of this. It is the liquefied remains of the dead going into the water system. We don’t think the public will like the idea.’ However, these burials have been taking place in countries such as Australia, Canada, and the USA already.
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