RESEARCH

Design, reinforced by research, reveals an urgent call to liberate city life from the burden of outmoded practices. A community’s need for sanitary and sensible disposal of corpses is intertwined with the need of survivors to organize suitable rituals and memorialize the deceased.

DeathLab’s body of research includes critical theoretical spatial propositions, data projections, scientific inquiry, and aims to develop ways to reduce the adverse impacts of our living years on the environment.




MICROBIAL METHANOGENESIS

Emerging Science for Corporeal Processing

The production of biogas or methanogenesis is the natural end result of a three-stage process in the decay and decomposition of biomass, preceded by hydrolysis-liquefaction and acidogenesis.

To transform animal waste into methane through anaerobic digestion, an oxygen-less process breaks down organic matter and converts it to methane, carbon dioxide, and a nutrient-rich effluent. This process can be used as a means of disposing whole animal carcasses and is typically employed in cases of infected livestock, due to digester containment and controllability.

Similar to the production of biogas from animal remains, human remains may also be rapidly decomposed by anaerobic digestion. The methane produced can be collected and utilized to produce electricity, or employed directly in a biogas heating system. Methanogenesis is the dominant method of breaking down organic matter in landfill disposal and is being studied in detail as a means to economically and ecologically reduce many forms of municipal solid waste. When coupled with an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (MBR), it can also be a low-energy alternative to municipal wastewater treatment, allowing the “matter” of the body to have remediative and generative impact. Assuming increased technological efficiency of this energy transfer, ultimately the power produced from the corpse could offset some of the carbon footprint the person created during life. (1)


SECTION FOOTNOTES

1 - P. M. Sutton, B. E. Rittmann, O. J. Schraa, J. E. Banaszak and A. P. Togna, "Wastewater as a resource: a unique approach to achieving energy sustainability." Water and Science Technology, 63.9, 2011.