Is that so? How so? Assessing proposed new techniques with the corpse

If anyone accused The Corpse Project of being stuck in the mud we’d be mortified. We respect burial and cremation as ancient traditions, ready to be reinvented, but we also believe society needs the next wave of innovation to meet the demands of the next century.

But how to judge whether a new technique is likely to fulfil the claims made for it? Here are our criteria:

Terms used are in common use and can be understood by the public or by specialists and preferably both.

Big statements about why the technique is needed and how it meets our needs are defended.

Sources of data are given.

The technique has been shown to be tested or is undergoing testing, with transparent and impartial review.

Below, without editing or comment, are our questions to the developer of  ecoLation™ and their answers. We thank them for coming back to us.  From their website:

Instead of destruction by flame, ecoLation™ uses a freezing process coupled with a molecular based method that mimics the earths (sic) natural processes of thousands of years and condenses them into a short period with no pollution side effects. This natural acceleration process, returns the remains in a post-cremation like form, but without the emissions of traditional fire cremation.  

The ecoLation™ process neutralises bacteria, viruses, pathogens, prions and other nasties. As one is ecoLated energy is released from the remains. This energy is used to self-fuel the process making the system even more environmentally friendly and partly self-generating.

We invite you to come to your own conclusions about the  ecoLation™ approach. You might want to compare it with the testing which is going on around urban composting of bodies or progress with dissolving the body in liquid lime, which is already in use in some parts of the world. Comments invited as always!

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Email exchange between Sophie Churchill, The Corpse Project, and  ecoLation™, August 2016, with questions arising from material on the  ecoLation™ website.

Is there evidence that burial undermines all the environmental efforts we’ve made during our lives? 

The TNO report went some way towards listing the evidence but not far enough.  All the body burden (700 to 900 bio-accumulated toxins, pesticides etc), end of life drugs, chemotherapy drugs, embalming fluids, pathogens, diseases, coffin veneers etc are released eventually into the soil and any gases either make their way through the soil to atmosphere or are released when a grave is opened.  Fluids eventually return to the water.

Dead bodies are biohazards and we need to dispose of them.

Currently we either landfall or incinerate.  With 7.4 billion people on earth we can’t really think that burying that many biohazards is a good idea!!

 

What is the source of evidence that burial pollutes the air?  

Less so than cremation – we never stated metrics in relation to the air issues, mostly attributed to the upkeep of the grave over a 25 year period is the CO2 emissions, but see above.  The primary gas is methane a greenhouse gas, which will eventually, given its very small molecular size, find its way to the surface and release.

 

Do you have data about noxious substances entering the watercourse with burial?  

Yes

 

Do you have evidence about the amount of toxins being released into the air from cremation? (In GB these are much reduced).  

Yes –  (after the GB reduction of mercury – of only which 50% are abated). We can measure things much more easily today, there are large volumes of data to show the composition of effluent gases from cremation.  The main issues are the green house gases carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide; 

Then volatile acids such as hydrogen chloride (HCl) and hydrogen fluoride (HF), mercury obviously.  Particulate matter.  Most of what you get back is coffin and bones, the soft matter being vaporised and expelled through the stack, which is what we call particulates.

Organic compounds such as benzenes, furans and acetone and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans, all of which are carcinogens.

 

How does the body, after it has been frozen, break up? (This was found to be the issue with a proposed freezing process a few years ago).  

We didn’t want anything touching the remains, or chemicals being added or any manual intervention, so the embrittled remains are fragile and therefore we can use the natural properties of a small amount of swift moving water to reduce the remains very easily.  All water is filtered, treated and recycled, the remains are never submerged.

 

What is the process that usually takes thousands of years, which you refer to in the video?  

We call it internally A.N.D. Accelerated Natural Disposition.  Using varying heats, and pressures and movement in an oxygen starved environment we can create conditions in which the long chains of complex carbon start to break into smaller chains of carbon and eventually into the elements on the periodic table.  Therefore you are getting the actual person back and not just ground up bones and coffin ash. In cremation the soft matter is vaporised and ejected through the stack.  We don’t have a stack.  We are electrical and contained – all this happens in a closed chamber.  This is the same process (only obviously synthesised and accelerated) that has produced, for example natural gas and oil.

 

How is electricity generated in this process?  

As the carbon chains are reduced, they release energy in for the form of a gas and this is used to create energy that is then reused for heat that is returned to the process – the more the unit is run the more efficient it becomes.

 

How are the toxins removed and what happens to them?  

Instead of allowing toxins or biologically active remains to putrefy or incinerating them, we are molecularly shredding them to base elements. However, some elements, such as mercury are dangerous.  These elements are subjected to further cleaning. Only traces of these elements will be present, but at levels well below the lowest acceptable tolerances of these in naturally occurring conditions.

End of email exchange.

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Is that so? How so? Assessing proposed new techniques with the corpse

  1. This is interesting for sure. How close is it to being active? I have looked into eco options and definitely don’t want to harm the planet any further when I leave it so this sounds really cool so long as it’s all backed up scientifically and their claims are real, which I’m sure they will have to be, when it goes ‘live’ lol…bad joke.

    Question for James – you seem so against it, why? Also how did it fail the criteria?

    • Hello Mary. my rather knee-jerk, negative reaction to this came from the disparaging voice that is used by ecoLation™, particularly about burial as a method of recycling your molecules. They mix scientific words with conjecture and present it as fact without research to substantiate what they say.
      Their claims are Pseudoscience – which Wikipedia describes as “a term used to describe a claim, belief, or practice presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to the scientific method. A field, practice, or body of knowledge can reasonably be called pseudoscientific when it is presented as consistent with the norms of scientific research, but it demonstrably fails to meet these norms.”
      There might be something worthwhile about their method, but there is a lack of openness to allow others in the field to evaluate their claims..

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