Homes in the Swedish town of Halmstad, the hometown of soccer star and former men’s underwear model Freddie Ljungberg, will soon be using excess heat from the town’s crematorium to stay warm each winter.
“Officials in the western Swedish town came up with the idea,” the Telegraph reports, “after a recent environmental review concluded that the crematorium’s chimneys were pumping far too much smoke into the air. Inspectors said the crematorium would have to buy new ovens in order to meet basic environmental standards.”
“It was when we were discussing all these environmental issues that we started thinking about the energy that is used in the cremations and realised that instead of all that heat just going up into the air, we could make use of it somehow. It was just rising into the skies for nothing,” said Lennart Andersson, the director of the cemetery in the town of Halmstad. “For starters we will heat our own premises. But I hope we can connect to the district heating network in the future.”
A bit more on how it would work:
When a body is cremated, toxic materials are released from the corpse. For example, fillings in the teeth, when heated to high temperatures, release mercury. In order to filter out the toxic materials before they are released into the air, the crematorium must cool the smoke from around 1,000ºC to 150ºC. But, with the heat now directed into the public heating system, the smoke will already be much closer to 150ºC and the crematorium will spend less on materials, including water, to cool it down.
This might be the most obvious – and least interesting – thing I could say right now, but this sounds an awful lot like the premise of a film – starring Paris Hilton, say – in which joy-riding teens stumble upon an idyllic small town in northern Vermont, or perhaps Minnesota, only to realize that all the homes around them, including the nice B&B in which they’ve booked a room, are warmed by an underground labyrinth of pipes and tunnels… that gets all its heat from burning corpses. What sound like distant screams coming in through the bathroom air vent at 2 in the morning leads one of them to explore…
But what constitutes a morally acceptable source of alternative energy? Who decides?
(Thanks to John Devlin for the link!)