The process is called alkaline hydrolysis and was developed in this country 16 years ago to get rid of animal carcasses. It uses lye, 300-degree heat and 60 pounds of pressure per square inch to destroy bodies in big stainless-steel cylinders that are similar to pressure cookers.
No funeral homes in the U.S. – or anywhere else in the world, as far as the equipment manufacturer knows – offer it. In fact, only two U.S. medical centers use it on human bodies, and only on cadavers donated for research.
But because of its environmental advantages, some in the funeral industry say it could someday rival burial and cremation.