The Greenest Way to Die

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We're a bit morbid here at mentalfloss lately (Miss C and her corpses; me and my serial killers), which today I've decided to just embrace and get on with it. To that end, I think we've all pondered at one time or another the best way to dispose of your body after you've shuffled off this mortal coil, and to my thinking, none of them sound very good. I could list the ways, but I really think Monty Python does an admirable job in their famous, gross-out "Undertaker" sketch:

With that in mind, you'll be happy to know that there's now an alternative to the nastiness burning, burying, "dumping" or eating your dead, (as outlined in the above sketch), and it's greener, too. Cremation uses somewhere on the order of 250 kWh of power, and is anything but emission-free; most burials in the western world involve a big clunky coffin sporting plenty of metals that aren't going to break down anytime soon; it's essentially littering! But the awesomely-named Magnus Hølvold over at Ecogeek just turned me on to a new way to die: resomation.

Basically, we're talking liquification. (I couldn't find a picture; you're welcome.) Here's how it works:

Within a tank called a resomator, the body is immersed in a 1:21 solution of potash lye and water. Gas-powered steam generators build up pressure within the tank as the temperature rises up to around 170 degrees celcius. Thanks to the pressure (and despite what the general news media would have you think) there is no boiling, only a chemical reaction that completely liquefies everything but the bone ash in our bodies. When the tank is opened, only the bone ash and any implants or prosthetics the person had remain.

If that still sounds gross and unpleasant (kinda reminds me of that scene in Silence of the Lambs ... oh, never mind), consider this: what results from the process, bone ash and amino-acid-rich person-liquid, is absolutely pollutant- and byproduct-free; a nutrient-rich soup perfect for fertilizing plants. Also, whatever expensive prosthetics the body in question had hiding in their knees or hearts can be removed and re-used, as they'll be undamaged by the process. And the whole shebang uses less than 100 kWh of power. (Above: bone ash. Below: a schematic of the resomator.
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For more info (and bookings!) check out Resomation Ltd.

April 10, 2008 - 6:30am
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