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Are Dead People Our Next Renewable Energy Source?

Are Dead People Our Next Renewable Energy Source?

A crematorium in the United Kingdom recently announced that it would use heat from its burners to produce electricity and bring down its energy costs.

In Britain, crematoriums are a major source of air pollution from the mercury in dental fillings. The government has mandated that all such establishments cut their emissions in half by next year and eliminate them altogether by the end of the decade.

Durham Crematorium decided to take the required renovation as an opportunity to reduce its utility bills as well as its toxic emissions. The county run business is currently undergoing a £2.3 million project to install three new furnaces. The first phase, due to be completed early next year, will include a “heat recovery system” to be fitted to one burner to capture and recycle heat for the building.

The projects second phase will include the installation of turbines on the other two furnaces. Heat generated during cremation will trigger the turbines and generate enough electricity to power 1,500, according to Durham Crematorium.

Under the UK’s feed-in tarriff program, all of this extra electricity could be sold back to the National Grid at a decent price. If successful, this scheme means that not only will the crematorium be powered by the bodies of the deceased, so will many homes and businesses in the area.

While it’s not the first crematorium in Britain to recycle  heat in this way, the Durham Crematorium is certainly the only one that will generate electricity to be sold back into the grid.

Experts say that if the heat recycling process proves profitable, other crematoriums across Europe could follow suit. While it’s definitely a little creepy to think about dead bodies heating up your living room, it’s actually a pretty resourceful idea. The traditional funeral process is extremely resource intensive and is responsible for many toxic substances leaching into our soil and water supply.

Recycling corpses into much needed affordable energy is a more honorable and practical way to dispose of the body. For those that have already chosen cremation, it could be comforting to know that they’ll get to perform one last generous service to mankind by being transformed into a weird source of renewable energy.

Related Reading:

Would You Swim In A Pool Heated By A Crematorium?

Human Body Heat Used To Power Buildings In Sweden [Video]

Scotland To Run Off 100% Renewable Energy By 2025

Image Credit: Flickr – tirch

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223 comments

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12:57PM PST on Dec 12, 2011

I'm gonna have to think about this...it's a very new idea to me.

7:11PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

If I read, and understood, the article correctly, "they are only using the bodies that have asked to be cremated, not just ALL bodies in general. If that is truly the case, then someone already being cremated wouldn't, or at least shouldn't, have a problem with how their cremation is used, especially if it is being used to help others!

9:34AM PST on Dec 9, 2011

intriging thanks for sharing!

7:21PM PST on Dec 8, 2011

What the ????

10:55AM PST on Dec 7, 2011

as each of my dogs have passed, they have been cremated and are still with me. If I live long enough to see organ transplants in dogs, I will agree to donate just as I would for myself. I have never had a problem knowing my corps could be of use after I've left it. The idea that whatever I leave behind with my death could be used to warm someone's home feels good to me. I will be cremated in any case...why NOT give warmth (or in AZ...AC)? Great idea.

10:32PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

Everyone seems so well prepared but I need to not procrastinate and make a new will. That could be an easy New Year's resolution that will benefit a few people, including myself.

9:58PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

I don't have a problem with it. If someone is going to be cremated [like myself and my DH] then why not turn us into something useful.

6:21PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

Never understood why recycled people were called Soylent Green, I would have called it Silent Beige....

6:20PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

Mary, Perhaps I'm mistaken about dog poop. Not the first time I've been misled. Deanna, I totally respect your feelings, but I just want to remind you that we're talking about people who make the choice to be cremated and a method of kind of offsetting the energy cremation takes by recycling it. I think I've got it right. Lots of people use a device that recycles the hot air from their dryers back into the house in the winter, where there is a cold winter. I have one. I think it's sort of like that.
'

1:32PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

Normally I'm not one to be too religious, but this just screams "WRONG! NO!" to me. I have a great amount of respect for the dead - even if it really is just a pile of decomposing cells once a person has passed away, it ought to be treated well, as it was once a living, breathing, thinking, speaking PERSON (then again I'm the same way with animals, too). The idea of burning people solely for energy seems like it could lead human society down a very dark, morally slippery, road. (And where there is a could, there always needs to be legal protection, because where there is a could, someone WILL, guaranteed, courtesy of Mr. Murphy/human fallibility.)

Plus, considering that human society will in all likelihood not outlive the Earth, we'll always have wind/water/solar power much more readily available, and with almost zero moral objections surrounding those sources,

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