Go green: An eco-friendly funeral?

You could think of it as your last chance to reduce your carbon footprint -- an eco-friendly funeral.

Updated: Jun 09, 2010, 19:02 PM IST

London: You could think of it as your
last chance to reduce your carbon footprint -- an eco-friendly

Each cremation produces around 150 kilogrammes of
CO2. Cremations also produce toxic chemicals -- a cubic metre
of the exhaust gases can contain as much as 200 micrograms of
mercury, largely from dental fillings.

Now, a range of cleaner and greener ways to dispose
of the deceased will soon be made available, from dissolving a
corpse in chemicals to freeze-drying it to a powder, the `New
Scientist` reported.

A company called, Resomation, based in Glasgow, has
developed a technique to dispose of a corpse by dissolving it
in sodium hydroxide at 180 degree C.

A gas-fired steam boiler generates the heat required,
and the procedure produces 66 kilograms of CO2 per body, said
Sandy Sullivan, the company`s founder. The process has been
approved for use in five US states, but not yet in the UK.

Freeze-drying bodies could reduce emissions even
further, according to another company, Cryomation, based in
Woodbridge, UK. Its technique freezes a body to -195 degree C using
liquid nitrogen. Once brittle, the frozen body is turned into
a powder and any metal removed.

The remains are then dried in a vacuum and sterilised,
said Richard Maclean of Cryomation. The powder can be buried
in a biodegradable box or scattered as fertiliser. The process
produces 50 kilogrammes of CO2 per body.

Cryomation, which developed the technology with a
team led by David Naseby at the University of Hertfordshire
in Hatfield, UK, has already tested a prototype device on pig
carcasses. A full-size prototype Cryomator is being built for
trials later this year on human corpses.

Ian Hanson at Bournemouth University in the UK, a
forensic archaeologist, points out that burying freeze-dried
remains still uses up land. "Space would not be an issue if
the powder was put to use, but is our society ready for our
mortal remains to be utilised as fertiliser, or harrowed into
crop fields?"