Tutu's Cremation used water at 150°C; understand how it works

The body of Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, who died at the age of 90 in 90 December, was reduced to ash by aquamation, a new method of cremation that combines water and high temperatures and presents itself as an ecological alternative to traditional burials.

As well as the technique of composting bodies with layers of leaves and wood, or burial using liquid nitrogen, aquamation it is a funeral method allowed only in some countries. In South Africa, the practice evolves within a certain legislative vacuum.

With the scientific name of “alkaline hydrolysis”, the method consists of cremation by water rather than by fire. The remains of the deceased are placed in a large metal cylinder and then immersed in a liquid, a mixture of water and alkaline substances.

The liquid is heated around 150 °C, while the cylinder is subjected to pressure, a process that allows a rapid dissolution of the body tissues.

After a few hours, the tissues (fat, blood, skin, muscles) “will completely liquefy , leaving only the bones,” explains funeral.info. Then the bones are reduced to white ash, which is placed in an urn and given to family members. In the case of Monsignor Desmond Tutu, the ashes were deposited in a columbarium.

From a symbolic point of view, water is considered softer than fire, and evokes the end of a life initiated in element liquid. In addition, the defenders of the method emphasize, above all, the ecological benefit, as it consumes less energy than cremation by combustion and emits less greenhouse gases.

According to the company Resomation, headquartered in United Kingdom, water consumes five times less energy than fire.

The method is the same used in the disposal of animal waste in refrigerators, considered effective from a sanitary point of view.

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