Burning granny's body to warm the house a bad idea
Fifteen crematoriums in Denmark have said they favor sending waste heat into local heating systems. What's unclear in the Economist story is if the waste heat will come from burning bodies, or some other energy source.
New regulations that take effect in 2011 require the Dutch crematoriums to filter out toxic substances such as dioxins and mercury from waste gases. To do this they must use water to cool chimney gases. Their plan is to then capture and use the excess energy from the cooling process.
Whether the water is cooled using energy from the crematoriums running off whatever power source they have, or from excess heat from cremating bodies, isn't explained in the Economist story.
Either way, the ethics council, made up of scientists, clergy and philosophers, didn't find an ethical reason to oppose recycling heat, even if it's waste heat.
The International Cremation Foundation, a lobby group based in The Hague, advises against commercializing the products of cremation.
But it's already being done, the Economist reports. Burnt bodies leave knee or hip replacements that are recycled as scrap metal, bringing in $15,000 to the country's 31 crematoriums since 2006.
Such recycling was allowed by law in 2005, although using such spare parts in works of art is barred.
For any Copenhagen residents who live near a crematorium, turning up the heat in the winter may get a bit creepy.