Alkaline Hydrolysis is the cremation technique where human remains are disposed with lesser production of carbondioxide and pollutants than the ordinary cremation. It is known as water cremation.
There are two types of cremation- Fire and Water Cremation.
The most commonly used type is the fire cremation which as the name implies uses fire to decompose dead bodies. On the other hand, Water is used alongside lye to do so. The latter, also known as the flameless cremation is considered to be an accelerated form of natural breakdown.
During the alkaline hydrolysis, the body is placed in a pressure vessel that is then filled with a mixture of water and lye, and heated to a temperature around 160 °C (320 °F). In an occasion where the temperature is reduced, the process takes a longer time of say 14-16 hours. In an intense temperature, it takes about 4-6 hours to decompose the body.
Alkaline Hydrolysis is a flameless gentle process that uses water and potassium hydroxide to reduce the body to bone ash. The ashes are then returned to the family.
According to Joe Wilson, CEO of alkaline hydrolysis systems manufacturer Bio-Response Solutions, the process is safer for the environment since it has lesser prospects of pollution.
“It’s hot as hell in there, and alkali is a powerful sterilant at temperature. Even the hardiest pathogen, an anthrax spore, is easily killed.”
The roiling lye sterilizes the organic materials, breaks down toxic chemicals, and reduces the risk of disease spreading.
Moreso, Matter Baskerville, an Illinois-based funeral director whose funeral home utilizes water cremation, says that another advantage of the flameless cremation is that the process leaves behind a finer, softer ash than the end product of fire cremation.
With water cremation, there is an 80% lesser rate of the emission of carbondioxide. This is because it uses energy to heat and cool the lye while flame cremations burn with natural gas.
At the beginning of the technique the PH level of the mixture is 14. By the end of it, it drops to 11. The final PH level is determined by the fat content of the body and the total operation time.
See Also: Catholic Church Bans Scattering Of Ashes
The Alkaline Hydrolysis machine was first used in 2006 in the Mayo Clinic’s anatomical bequest program in Rochester, Minnesota.
However, the cremation process was originally developed as a way of getting rid of animal carcasses by processing them into plant food.
In the 1990s, researchers at Albany Medical College in New York employed the technique to dispose of lab animals. The two researchers later became involved with a company called WR2, which constructed the first water cremation machine that could handle a human body.
The Alkaline hydrolysis is being gradually but strongly being advocated in the parts of the world where cremation is a common burial practice. However many still have their reservations about the new flameless cremation.
One major problem with cremation generally is the “scattering of the ashes” which are popularly done at seas amongst other locations.
An American state like California has signed a bill, legalizing the disposing of human remains through water cremation. This will take effect as from 2020.