There’s a new process that presents an environmentally-sensitive way to dispose of human remains. It’s so clean, what’s left after the process can be safely poured down the drain!
While not in widespread use by funeral homes yet, the process liquefies the body into a coffee-colored sterile solution that can be safely disposed of in water or on land without concern about toxic chemicals. Called Water Resolution® from BioSAFE Engineering, it’s a developing green alternative to burial and cremation that accelerates natural decomposition.
The process is officially called alkaline hydrolysis. The body is placed in a specialized tank that is filled with a strong alkali solution that is brought up to high temperature and pressure. The tissue dissolves into basic life building blocks of amino acids, peptides, sugars and soap (actually the salts of fatty acids), leaving white, brittle skeletal remains that are easily powdered to ash. These sterile “bone shadows” can be returned as ashes if the family desires.
The process neutralizes embalming fluid, drugs and the body’s DNA/RNA and it produces much less CO2 than a cremation. Titanium medical implants can be recovered intact and perfectly usable in Third World countries by organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. While not yet in wide use as of 2009, the Mayo Clinic has successfully used the Water Resolution® process since 2007 to dispose of bodies donated for scientific research.
Should you have the opportunity to use this new process, remember in your funeral planning that an event without the body is called a memorial service.