London: For those who are keen to leave a light footprint on the Earth, here’s one way to accomplish it—"aquamation", a new eco-alternative to burial and cremation.
With land for burials in short supply and cremation producing around 150 kilograms of carbon dioxide per body – and as much as 200 micrograms of toxic mercury – aquamation is being touted as the greenest method for disposing of your mortal remains.
The corpse is placed into a steel container and potassium is added, followed by water heated to 93 degree Centigrade.
The flesh and organs are completely decomposed in 4 hours, leaving bones as the only solid remains.
This is similar to what’s left after cremation, where the "ashes" are in fact bones hardened in the furnace and then crushed.
Aquamation uses only 10 per cent of the energy of a conventional cremation and releases no toxic emissions, said John Humphries, chief executive of Aquamation Industries in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, who developed the technology.
The decomposition process, called alkaline hydrolysis, "simply speeds up the natural way that flesh decomposes in soil and water", he said.
Similar methods for decomposing corpses have been developed elsewhere, but they decompose corpses at much higher temperatures.
Humphries says that aquamation, unlike cremation, will not destroy artificial implants such as hip replacements, allowing them to be reused, reports New Scientist.
And after the body is decomposed, "the water is a fantastic fertiliser", he said.