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calendar   Monday - December 05, 2011

Soylent Power

Old Aunt Edna Is Worth 150kWh



How’s this for the ultimate give-back to society? Extreme recycling? Or just more “journalism” designed to keep people upset?

Burning deceased humans will produce electricity
Turbines at crematorium will convert heat into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours per corpse

In Durham, England, corpses will soon be used to generate electricity.

A crematorium is installing turbines in its burners that will convert waste heat from the combustion of each corpse into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours of juice — enough to power 1,500 televisions for an hour. [which would give REAL meaning to the old “This broadcast sponsored in part by viewers like you”!] The facility plans to sell the electricity to local power companies.

Some might find this concept creepy. Others might be pleased to learn that the process “makes cremation much greener by utilizing its by-products,” in the words of cremation engineer Steve Looker, owner and chief executive officer of the Florida-based company B&L Cremation Systems, which is unaffiliated with the Durham enterprise.

In Europe, tightening regulations on crematorium emissions, coupled with the high price of energy, will lead more and more facilities to go the way of Durham in the future, Looker said. Will crematories in the United States follow suit?

According to Looker, whose company is currently testing different methods of utilizing cremation waste heat, the expensive turbine systems being installed in Durham are not yet economically viable for crematories here. “In the U.S., most crematories don’t have enough throughput,” he told Life’s Little Mysteries. “Cremation in some parts of Europe is over 90 percent, but it is not over 50 percent yet here.” That is, less than half of Americans opt for cremation. Most are buried.

Consequently, while burners in Europe typically run 24 hours day, ones in America operate only eight hours each day, Looker said. “A typical turbine system would cost somewhere between $250,000 to $500,000. If it’s running 24 hours a day, that’s a five-year payback. If it’s running eight hours a day, that’s a 15- or 20-year payback, which isn’t feasible,” he said.

However, Looker is hopeful that the situation could change in the near future. “Over the next 10 years, with the baby boomers coming through, cremation is going to reach 75 to 80 percent. Then, this might be feasible.”

Furthermore, a turbine designed by a company called Thermal Dynamic Engineering, which produces just 50 kilowatt-hours of energy but is much less expensive to install than the Durham system, will be available in the near future, Looker said.

Thus, it may indeed come to pass that deceased baby boomers will someday help power your household appliances.

Boy howdy, this ought to end the prejudice against the overweight. Think how much extra energy they’ll contribute! OTOH, it might provide the wrong kind of incentive to the more twisted types. Now put those twisted types in charge of the government ... or at least the judicial or health-care corners of it. Can you see a problem arising, mein fuhrer? Nein, es ist nicht ein problem auf allen! In some ways, this is nothing new to Europeans at all.

Huh, seems to me I read a sci-fi story similar to this ages and ages ago ... the aliens took all the fatties and wired them up to suck the energy out of them ... it was the greatest diet ever, until they ran out of chubsters.

Soylent Green is already here. It’s called ”bio-energy”, and a whole lot of unusual ideas can hide under that umbrella. But are they sick, or sensible?


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/05/2011 at 08:19 AM   
Filed Under: • Oil, Alternative Energy, and Gas Prices •  
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