Cremation is bad for the environment – but there’s a new way to dispose of your body after death and it’s all based on ‘very clever science’.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Trinity Professor Luke O’Neill said ‘aquamation’ emits far less carbon, meaning you can ‘keep saving the planet after your death’.
Proponents of the technique claim it will ‘revolutionise the death industry’, with a number of well-known names - including the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu - already making use of it.
Prof O’Neill told Pat how it all works.
“Cremation, it turns out, is bad for the environment,” he said.
“Aquamation is a chemical process that renders all your flesh down into liquid form, leaving behind your bones.
“The bones then get crushed and given to your loved one as if it's like ashes.
“It's much better for the environment and it's predicted to take over from cremation – they're using clever science as well to do this.”
Prof O’Neill said burning the fuel needed for a cremation generates around 245kg of carbon, while heating the water for aquamation only emits 28kg.
“It's called alkaline hydrolysis,” he said.
“Basically, you put the remains in a big vat right, in water, and heat it up to 93C just to get it nice and warm, putting in this alkaline solution.
“Now alkaline can be quite caustic as we all know - you can use alkali to clean things - and that begins, gently, to dissolve everything into liquid form.
“Anything organic, as we say, gets dissolved and the stuff that gets left behind is your bones, which are inorganic.
“It takes 16 hours, by the way, and they're recommending it because it's a gentle thing to do instead of cremation, obviously.”
Prof O’Neill said the process does create wastewater; however, he said the water doesn’t contain anything toxic.
He said the wastewater contains amino acids, lipids and some of your component parts – but is highly sterilised so there is no risk of infection.
The Trinity professor noted that there are other eco-friendly after-death options.
“There's also eco burial – I think that's a system where it's regular burial without any formaldehyde or embalming fluids, for instance,” he said.
“There's also can't get composting, which sounds a bit macabre as well, doesn't it?
“So, there are other alternatives out there that are that are environmentally friendly, not just acclamations.”