How do peo­ple re­act when you ex­plain the process to them?

Ottawa Magazine - - THIS CITY -

It’s a learn­ing curve. They say, “Wa­ter?” But then they find the idea com­fort­ing, like be­ing in a hot tub com­pared with be­ing burned at 2,500 de­grees or put into the ground. I tell them bio-cre­ma­tion isn’t all that new — it’s been avail­able in many places in the United States for years.

How green is this tech­nol­ogy?

There are zero emis­sions, and there’s 66 per­cent less en­ergy con­sump­tion than with flame-based cre­ma­tion.

Bod­ies are de­liv­ered to you from fu­neral homes. They are laid down in an eight-foot­long stain­less-steel cylin­der, and a so­lu­tion is added. What’s in the so­lu­tion?

Wa­ter, po­tash from Saskatchewan, and salt.

How heavy a body can you deal with?

We can han­dle a body of up to 500 pounds [227 kg].

What hap­pens next?

I cal­cu­late how long the process will take, based on body weight. The range is from 1½ to 2½ hours.

What ex­actly is the process?

The wa­ter is 180 F [82.2 C] when it comes into the cylin­der, and it takes about 40 min­utes for the so­lu­tion to rise to 302 F [150 C] un­der pres­sure. Be­cause it’s un­der pres­sure — 60 pounds [27 kg] of pres­sure — it never reaches the boil­ing point. When it reaches 302 de­grees, the heaters shut off and a pro­pel­ler at the bot­tom of the tank ro­tates and ag­i­tates the so­lu­tion. This process is called al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis.

The body dis­in­te­grates?

All ex­cept the skele­ton. As you know, the ma­jor­ity of hu­man body weight is from wa­ter, and in the bio-cre­ma­tion process, the flesh and or­gans dis­solve into an ef­flu­ent. A ra­di­a­tor sys­tem, like the one in your car, cools down the so­lu­tion to re­lieve the pres­sure after the cy­cle is done. The so­lu­tion in the tank passes through a ster­il­iz­ing cy­cle, a rinse, and then the ef­flu­ent goes through two fil­ters be­fore it’s re­leased into the sewage sys­tem.

Have there been any is­sues with the town of Smiths Falls in terms of this ef­flu­ent go­ing into the sewer sys­tem?

None. The process pro­duces a ster­ile waste. The sys­tem kills the po­tency of any med­i­ca­tion that was in the body, as well as other sub­stances such as em­balm­ing flu­ids — about 45 per­cent of the bod­ies we have treated have been em­balmed — and also any viruses.

So what’s left in the cylin­der?

The en­tire skele­ton is col­lapsed at the bot­tom of the tank. It is damp and ba­si­cally white — the skull is in­tact and the teeth in it are very clean … and then it’s crushed. The pow­der is very fine and white — it’s quite dif­fer­ent from the larger flaky ashes and small bone frag­ments that are left after a flame­based cre­ma­tion.

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