Alkaline hydrolysis was legalized in Oregon in 2009 when the state updated its definition of «final disposal» to include dissolving human remains. (Oregon Revised Statutes § 692.010(4).) In Oregon, alkaline hydrolysis is regulated by the State Corpse and Cemetery Board, which has issued detailed rules for «alternative disposal facilities.» Several funeral homes offer this service in Oregon. If you are wondering about the safety of alkaline hydrolysis, rest assured that this is not the main concern of government regulators. The Mayo Clinic has been using the procedure for years when it receives body donations. The alkaline water solution is natural and non-toxic. Once the process is complete, the remaining solution is safe enough to drain (although there are regulations for proper disposal). In alkaline hydrolysis, a human body is sealed in a long stainless steel chamber while a heated solution of 95% water and 5% caustic soda flows over and around it. In alkaline hydrolysis at low temperature, the solution reaches a temperature just below boiling, the process is carried out at atmospheric pressure and the body is reduced over the course of 14-16 hours; In a higher temperature version of the process, where the mixture exceeds 300 degrees Fahrenheit and creates more pressure, the body is reduced in four to six hours. The process dissolves bonds in the body`s tissues and eventually results in a sterile liquid combination of amino acids, peptides, salts, sugars and soaps, which is eliminated in the alkaline hydrolysis plant. The bones of the body are then ground into a fine powder and returned to the survivors of the deceased, just as the bones left behind after burning the flame are returned to the families as ashes. An earlier attempt in New York failed and was not reintroduced. Gilligan added that in 2017, bills were introduced to legalize alkaline hydrolysis in the states of Indiana, Utah and Washington.

«The Indiana bill failed and the Utah bill passed in 2018,» he said. «The Washington bill initially failed, but was reintroduced as SB 5001 and passed in 2019» (this is the same legislation that allows organic natural reduction or human composting). «I`m so passionate about advocating for water cremation in legislation and I`m proud that it`s now legal in Hawaii,» said owner Kawehi Correa. «For Native Hawaiians, it allows us to preserve iwi [long bones]. For us, this is where mana [power/essence] is and what it goes through. It represents how we value life and our purpose on this planet. I believe that this technology, water cremation, is the future. Missouri laws do not allow alkaline hydrolysis by name. However, the process is considered a legal method of final disposition because Missouri lawmakers and the state funeral home include the definition of «cremation» as the process of alkaline hydrolysis. (See 20 CSR 2120-2.071).

In Missouri, this process is often referred to as «aquamation» or «flameless cremation.» Several funeral homes currently offer alkaline hydrolysis in Missouri. The process was originally developed as a method of converting animal carcasses into plant feed, patented by Amos Herbert Hobson in 1888. [5] [15] [9] In 2005, Bio-Response Solutions designed, sold and installed the first alkaline cadaver hydrolysis system at Mayo Clinic, where it was still in use in 2019. [16] In 2007, a Scottish biochemist, Sandy Sullivan, founded a company that manufactured the machines and named the process (and the company) Resomation. [17] Alkaline hydrolysis (also biocremation, resumation[1][2], flameless cremation, aquamation[3] or water cremation[4]) is a method of disposing of human and pet remains using laundry and heat and is an alternative to burial or cremation. A public crematorium operated by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in Rowley Regis, central England, was the first to receive planning permission to offer the procedure, but in March 2017, the local Severn Trent Water utility rejected the council`s application for a «commercial drainage permit» because there was no water industry standard governing the disposal of liquefied human remains in sewerage. [31] [32] Alkaline hydrolysis has also been adopted by the companion and animal industries. A handful of companies in North America offer the procedure as an alternative to pet cremation.

[12] Alkaline hydrolysis is also used in agriculture to sterilize animal carcasses, which can pose a health risk as the procedure inactivates viruses, bacteria and prions that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. [6] [13] [14] In Christian countries and cultures, cremation has always been discouraged and seen as a desecration of the image of God and an intervention in the resurrection of the dead taught in Scripture. It is now acceptable for some denominations. [18] Alkaline hydrolysis is a chemical process that uses a solution of 95% water and 5% potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide to reduce a body to fluid and bone components. The result is plenty of green-brown tinted liquid (with amino acids, peptides, sugars and salts) and soft white porous bone residues (calcium phosphate) that are easily crushed into the hand (although a cremulator is more commonly used) to form white dust. The «ashes» can then be returned to the next of kin of the deceased. The liquid is disposed of either through the sanitary sewer system or by another method, including use in a garden or green space. [7] To dispose of 1,000 pounds (450 kg), approximately 60 to 240 US gallons (230 to 910 L; 50 to 200 gallons) of water are used, resulting in 120 to 300 US gallons (450 to 1,140 L; 100 to 250 gallons) of wastewater carrying a dry weight of 20 pounds (9.1 kg) (approximately 2% of initial weight). [6] Aquamation is unlike any other end-of-life service. It is technologically advanced, but has a much lower impact on the environment compared to conventional burial and flame-based cremation.

The end result is similar to cremation, although the process reflects an accelerated decomposition of the burial. Alkaline hydrolysis was legalized in New Hampshire in 2006, but the law was struck down later in 2008 before the facilities offered the process. An attempt to pass a new law in 2013 that would have legalized the process again failed. A funeral home in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, works by alkaline hydrolysis in Maine and sends human remains there for legal treatment. One of the charms of alkaline hydrolysis is that it accelerates the way a corpse naturally disintegrates in the earth. «This is a chemical reaction in which water molecules dissociate and break down under certain conditions,» says Sieber. «In our system, we add heat, we add water flow and we add alkalinity, and alkalinity really causes the water molecule to split and move to break down the material.» Maryland legalized alkaline hydrolysis in 2010, when the state specifically defined cremation to include processes other than heat and flame. (Maryland Business Regulation Code § 5-101.) No facility in Maryland has made the process available for human remains. The international press reacted to reports that Tutu — the anti-apartheid leader, Nobel laureate and Anglican archbishop emeritus, who called climate change «one of the greatest moral challenges of our time» — had called for alkaline hydrolysis, also known as aquamation, or water cremation, as an environmentally friendly final disposal for his body. So the vice president of research at Bio-Response Solutions, the world`s largest manufacturer of alkaline hydrolysis machines for the disposal of human remains, sent the children and dogs to the basement and settled down to explain what she does for a living.

The process is based on alkaline hydrolysis: the body is placed in a pressurized vessel, which is then filled with a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide and heated to a temperature of about 160°C (320°F), but to a high pressure that prevents boiling. Instead, the body is effectively broken down into its chemical components, which takes about four to six hours. Lower temperature and pressure can be used, but with a longer duration (208°F (98°C), 14 to 16 hours). [5] At the beginning of the process, the mixture is fairly basic, with a pH of about 14; The pH drops to 11 at the end, but the final pH depends on the total duration of operation and the amount of fat in the body. [6] Alkaline hydrolysis is rare today as a funeral practice for humans.