Alkaline Hydrolysis (AH), also referred to as “Resomation,” is a water-based chemical process using strong alkali in water at high temperatures (up to 350 F).
In AH, the body is placed in a silk bag, itself placed within a metal cage frame. This is then loaded into a machine called a Resomator. The machine is filled with a mixture of water and lye, and heated to a high temperature. High pressure is used to prevent boiling. Within three hours the body is broken down into a liquid (containing amino acids, peptides, sugars and salts) and bones that are then crushed into a fine, white powder. The “ash” can then be returned to the next of kin of the deceased. The non-toxic liquid is disposed of either through the sanitary sewer system, or if preferred, through some other method including use in a garden or green space.
Compared to Cremation, AH requires less energy (approximately one-tenth) to heat the Resomator, produces less carbon dioxide, and allows for mercury to be removed for proper disposal or recycling.
According to an article in MSNBC news titled “When you’re dying for a lower carbon footprint,” Alkaline Hydrolysis is currently legal in Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon, with other states pending.
- Article on Groovy Green – “Resomation: Your New High-Tech Option For Eco-Friendly Burial”
- USA Today article – “New in mortuary science: Dissolving bodies with lye”
- MSNBC article – “When you’re dying for a lower carbon footprint”
- Resomation Ltd – the company that developed the process of Resomation, where more information can be found
Promession is a method for disposing of human remains using freeze drying.
In Promession, the body is frozen by immersion in liquid nitrogen, which makes it brittle. The frozen remains are then vibrated so that they shatter then a vacuum is used to dry the remaining powder. Any metals (tooth amalgam, metallic medical implants, etc) are removed using a magnet or a sieve. The dry powder is then placed in a biodegradable casket, where it can be interred in the top layers of the soil and undergoes decomposition by aerobic bacteria, turning it into compost.
Promession does not require the burning of fossil fuels and does not release carbon dioxide. Promession has not been made available commercially yet.
- A brief overview of Promession is available in this video on Youtube
- Promessa Organic AB – the company that developed the process, where more information can be found