Direct Cremate

Will Electric Retorts Eliminate Fossil Fuels in Cremation?

Electric retorts are being used for cremations in Europe, but will they become the norm in the U.S.? Learn why electric retorts are being developed.
Are Electric Retorts the Future of Cremation?
Are Electric Retorts the Future of Cremation?

Recently we talked about tech innovations in the funeral industry that are already impacting disposition services. One innovation that could have a dramatic impact on cremation is the electric retort. Engineers have been working on new retort designs, but can an electric version eliminate the need for fossil fuels? 

In this post we’re taking a look at what an electric retort is and why some countries are approving them for cremation. 

What Makes an Electric Retort Different

A retort has to get between 1,400 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to cremate a body. The key difference with electric retorts is the energy that’s used to generate the heat. An electric retort uses electricity to power the retort instead of fossil fuels. 

While this may seem like a simple change, it has a significant effect on how the retort operates and is built. All of the mechanisms are going to be different in a retort that runs off of an electricity supply. In particular, with electric retorts there’s a furnace that generates heat inside the retort. Once the retort is heated the body is then placed inside of it. 

A new form of cremation called alkaline hydrolysis or water cremation, is already putting electric heating into practice. Water cremation involves heating a water/alkaline solution in a pressurized chamber that breaks down body tissue. Like flame cremation, all remains at the end of the process are bone and metal fragments. 

Fun Fact: In parts of Europe, electricity is being produced by cremating bodies. The electricity is produced by capturing heat waste that is released during cremations. 

Why Electric Retorts Are Being Developed

There are a handful of reasons why engineers, crematoriums and consumers are interested in advancing electric cremation. The top ones include:

More Eco-Friendly – Although direct cremation is more eco-friendly than burial, there is concern over the use of fossil fuels and the carbon emissions it creates. With electric cremation far fewer emissions and pollution are generated both directly and indirectly. And if the electricity is produced using renewable resources, electric cremation is virtually carbon neutral. 

More Efficient – Electricity can be just as efficient as fossil fuels, if not moreso. The new electric retorts are being built with features that help improve efficiency during operation. As a result, a cremation can be completed faster with an electric retort. 

Safer – There is the potential for fires and explosions with traditional retorts that use fossil fuels. Switching to electricity reduces some of the risks and is considered safer for retort operators

Less Expensive – Fossil fuels continue to increase in cost, whereas the natural gas and renewable resources that are used to generate electricity are more cost effective. Being able to reduce the time needed for cremations also reduces the cost. That means electric retorts should be less expensive to use compared to ones that use fossil fuels. 

At Direct Cremate our goal is to provide simplified, stress-free direct cremation services. We invest in advanced equipment that helps us operate efficiently so that cremation is more cost-effective for families. If you would like to know more about direct cremation or arrange services you can reach us any time by phone or text.