Industry Outlook: Is the Biocremation Alkaline Hydrolysis Process Coming Soon?

At Stillinger Family Funeral Home, we are always watching for advancements in the funeral industry; case in point: the alkaline hydrolysis process. This process, sometimes called “biocremation”, “green cremation”, “water cremation”, “liquid cremation”, or “resomation” is an environmentally responsible process for disposing of human remains that produces less carbon dioxide and pollutants than traditional cremation.

What is the Alkaline Hydrolysis Process?

Alkaline hydrolysis is actually the lengthy natural process a body experiences after burial. With the biocremation alkaline hydrolysis process, this decomposition can be accelerated to a few hours in a controlled environment. During the accelerated alkaline hydrolysis process, the body is placed in a chamber that is then filled with a water and lye mixture. The chamber and its contents are then heated to a temperature around 300 degrees F or higher, but also at a high pressure which prevents boiling. The result is that the body breaks down into its chemical components, essentially dissolving everything into liquid form except bone. The calcium phosphate bone remnants can then easily be converted to a white dust similar in texture to flour. This white dust can be returned to the next of kin or designated family member.

The alkaline hydrolysis process is touted as a more environmentally responsible method because it uses a fraction of the energy as standard cremation and produces less carbon dioxide and fewer harmful pollutants. In fact, as compared to flame-based cremation, biocremation can reduce the carbon footprint of body disposal by up to 75%.

Outlook for Human Use

Alkaline hydrolysis is becoming more widely used by the pet funeral industry as an alternative to cremation or burial. But it is being met with resistance for use with human body disposition. Whether it is due to religious objections, misconceptions about the process, or perceived competitive threats to current crematory operators, the outlook for alkaline hydrolysis to become adopted in Indiana is not promising in the near future. Continuing education of the public, as well as industry stakeholders and legislators, will perhaps lead to eventual legalization of biocremation.

At Stillinger Family Funeral Home, we want you to know that we are constantly watching for funeral industry advancements that can serve you – and our environment – more responsibly. To learn more, contact us at (317) 462-5536.

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