India is a land of diverse cultural beliefs, with a civilization as old as humankind itself. Among its many traditions is cremation. The majority of India’s population currently relies on open air, wood-fire cremation as part of their funerary process.
Outdoor, wood-fire cremations can cause serious environment degradation. Each cremation requires around 400-500 kg of wood, which quickly adds up to the deforestation of millions of trees. Open air, wood-fire cremation also leads to air and water pollution when particulate matter is released into the environment without treatment. With high temperatures needed for effective cremation, sometimes bodies aren’t fully burnt before being released into water. We needed to find a sustainable way to enable communities to perform crematory funeral rites.
We’ve partnered with vendors to identify ways we can leverage technology to reduce the cost of cremation and the associated carbon emissions. Concerned with the ongoing environmental damage, the Indian government has been searching for alternative, sustainable solution to wood-fire cremation. Alternative energy sources such as solar and biogas are too expensive and often ineffective; they cannot achieve the 1200 degrees Celsius required to cremate a body. Currently, the Indian government recommends electric, CNG, or LPG-based crematoriums as an alternative to wood.
We will continue to fund the research into finding sustainable cremation methods and ways to integrate green technology into the design of crematoriums. Our findings are freely available for any community interested in identifying alternative, greener solutions to traditional cremations. So far, we have aided in the revival of a defunct LPG crematorium in Bareilly and are in the process of setting up a high-tech, low-cost prototype in Shahjahanpur. We intend to share our findings with all stakeholders to further lower the cost and reduce the carbon footprint of cremations.