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.
Image Credit: Flickr – tirch