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Tissue digestion is a method of disposing bodies. The scientific term is "alkaline hydrolysis". It is used at several universities for the remains of animal cadavers as well as for human remains. In mortuary usage, the process is called "water reduction", "resomation" or "aquamation".
The remains are dissolved in a mixture of heated water and lye or potassium hydroxide. The solid remains are reduced to 2 to three percent of the original body weight. After the process is completed, only remnants of the bones of a body remain, and these can be ground in one's hand. The remaining protein matter of the body has been dissolved by the lye into a sterile liquid. Two main methods have been introduced for human remains, the main difference is in the temperatures the units operate at; resomation works at 180 degrees C, and aquamation at 93 degrees C.
Alkaline hydrolysis was patented in the US by Amos Herbert in 1888. The process was revisited by retired pathology professor Gordon Kaye and retired biochemistry professor Peter Weber in 1992. It was utilised as a method of disposing of animals remains used in disease research.
For mortuary use, it is ten times cheaper than cremation, since it uses no gas. For disposal of animals, it also destroys prions, which rendering does not reliably do. It also does not cause air pollution. It is the most environmentally-friendly and sanitary method for disposal of cadavers and remains. End products can be recycled as fertilizer.
Use in Mortuaries
Mortuary use is hindered by the fact that many of the human remains are liquefied and may be put into the sewer. Also, the notion of being dissolved causes some people discomfort. In response to the former, a process of dehydrating the liquid remains so they, with what remains of the bones, can be disposed of as traditional cremation remains has been developed. Use in mortuaries was not a concern of the company until the scandal at the Tri-State Crematory, which caused the mortuary industry to anticipate a declining public faith in cremation.
- BioLiquidator, mobile tissue digestion equipment for animal carcasses and disease mitigation
- BioSAFE Engineering's Alkaline Hydrolysis
- Aquamation, religious considerations and funeral planning
- Time September 28 2010
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