When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Heat exchangers at the crematorium

Considering the environmental cost of cremation - despite the Clean Air Act, it still causes pollution and uses fossil fuels - don't you think it's a good idea to reduce the impact by using some of the heat it generates to warm the living? Crematoria can be chilly.

The Daily Mail reported today,

Tameside Council in Greater Manchester is planning to link heat exchangers at Dukinfield Crematorium with its boiler system and hopes to use it to generate electricity through turbines.

Comments about the story are as interesting as the proposal. Most seem to be in favour, with only a minority using words like "sick". Eileen from Herts wrote,

Ughh. Sounds awful to me. I would hate to know the heating was being generated by loved ones [sic] bodies. Deceased or not.

Deceased or not? What does she mean?

The Daily Mail's sub-editor seems ignorant of the purpose of a crematorium. The story's headed,

Crematorium to keep mourners warm by burning bodies of loved ones

which suggests a funeral pyre with relatives standing around, warming their hands. Crematoria don't burn bodies to keep mourners warm, but because it's cheaper than burial and most people prefer it. There was a time when the idea was repellent to most people. It was a practical solution to the problem of overcrowded municipal cemeteries. Lots of people used to think "Ugh!" Some associated cremation with the fires of hell. It only takes a few decades for attitudes to change. Why waste heat?


Dalote said...

Also - there seems to be an impression that the heat available for use comes mostly "from" the burning of bodies; any elementary school physics student knows the heat given off by the combusted body is minimal compared to the huge excess of energy which must be put INTO the cremation chamber to raise it to the temps needed in order to reduce all the soft tissues of the body to ash.

Margaret said...