Dealing with the dead on offworld colonies

  • 4 replies
  • 2639 views
*

Offline Kedamono

  • ***
  • 176
  • Agent
Dealing with the dead on offworld colonies
« on: June 13, 2018, 04:28:26 PM »
So, as I mentioned in my thread about the colony Frenner II in the previous incarnation of these boards, the colonists didn't bury their dead in coffins, they composted them. People got too many needed items in them, from phosphates to various forms of bacteria.

But how do you compost a person? Run them through the chipper/shredder and then add the bits to the compost bin? That's a bit gruesome. Instead, they probably would use something that would be in common use on spaceships: A  Supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) unit.

Here's a quote about how effective a SCWO unit is in turning organics into something you use for fertilizer:

Quote
Water is pretty near the universal solvent at room temperature. Heat it to quite high temperatures, under fairly high pressure so that it doesn't boil, and it gets, uh, more so. Dissolve a bit of oxygen in it, and you have a fantastically corrosive witches' brew that will vigorously attack almost anything. Throw in just about any organic substance you care to name, and out comes water, CO2, nitrogen, and sterile ash (oxides of metals, mostly). One of the bigger practical problems, in fact, is making the equipment stand up to it. The other major problem is that it's pretty power-intensive, because of the high temperature and high pressure.

It's pretty much the preferred way to recycle organic wastes kitchen garbage, human wastes, etc. in designs for advanced closed-cycle life-support systems.

And bodies. Especially bodies. On the colonies, no one gets buried, they get a memorial plaque in the remembrance garden, and their remains turned into useful elements.

*

Offline ORtrail

  • **
  • 263
  • Agent
Re: Dealing with the dead on offworld colonies
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 07:36:44 PM »
That seems too practical for most groups of humans.  Digging a hole and dropping in the body was good enough for grandpa -and frankly is a bit of a family tradition.  Tradition will trump most practical considerations. 

A colony is in a world of trouble (pun intended) if they are so close to the edge they need the bodies used in a recycle process.  Just be glad they are not spending time and energy to construct a triangle shaped tomb of unusual size. 

*

Offline Kedamono

  • ***
  • 176
  • Agent
Re: Dealing with the dead on offworld colonies
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 08:56:16 PM »
Well, most colonies are doing their best to turn the native biome into a quasi-Terran biome. Also, you need phosphates to live, and grandma is chock full of them. If you bury her in a hole, you'll have to plant your garden on top of her. Don't think too hard about that scenario...

It's easier to chuck grandma into the SCWO and sprinkle her over the potatoes you're trying to grow.

*

Offline ORtrail

  • **
  • 263
  • Agent
Re: Dealing with the dead on offworld colonies
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2018, 11:02:24 AM »
Again, you are being logical and rational, when humans are often anything but when dealing with the death of a loved one.  You MIGHT be able to have different colonies on the same planet swap SCWO product. 

*

Offline Kedamono

  • ***
  • 176
  • Agent
Re: Dealing with the dead on offworld colonies
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2018, 11:19:52 AM »
Remember, Frenner II was and is a research colony. Lots of folks who would point out that embalming and burying the dead is counterproductive to the success of the colony. Think of SCWO as a very practical form of cremation...