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Who Invented Alkaline Hydrolysis?

Many people are beginning to discover alkaline hydrolysis as they explore funeral service options. Find out who invented alkaline hydrolysis, when and why.
Who Invented Alkaline Hydrolysis
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As alkaline hydrolysis is approved in more states around the country, there’s more interest in learning what the process entails. One thing that we are often asked is who invented alkaline hydrolysis? People want to know how the process was developed and why? 

You may be surprised to find that alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation, isn’t a new form of disposition. It was actually patented over a century ago by someone who wasn’t in the medical community.

The Farmer That Developed Alkaline Hydrolysis for Practical Purposes

In 1888, a farmer named Amos Herbert Hanson patented what is now known as alkaline hydrolysis. It was patented in the U.S., but Hanson was originally from the U.K. At that time alkaline hydrolysis solutions were being used to extract nutrients from the bones of livestock to make fertilizer. Hanson recognized that the process could be used to decompose the entire body.

So he set about meticulously documenting an alkaline hydrolysis process that could be used for the disposition of an entire animal. The patent Hanson received for alkaline hydrolysis is No. 394,982.

It wasn’t until a century later that doctors turned their attention to developing alkaline hydrolysis technology for the purpose of human disposition.

RELATED READ: Everything You Need to Know About Water Cremation

The Creator of Modern Day Alkaline Hydrolysis Machines

Dr. Gordon I. Kaye and Dr. Peter B. Weber are credited with modernizing alkaline hydrolysis in the 1990s. They were looking for a safe way to dispose of animals that had radioisotopes in their systems. Alkaline hydrolysis proved to be the solution they were looking for. 

Recognizing the benefits of the alkaline hydrolysis process and its potential, Kaye and Weber teamed up with a business partner to patent their modernized process. In 1994 they received U.S. Patent No. 5,332,532. 

Their new company, WR2, went on to manufacture and install commercial alkaline hydrolysis chambers soon after, starting with an installation at Albany Medical College. The first chamber that was built for human disposition was installed at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. It was used to cremate people who donated their bodies for medical research. 

Research from the latter part of the 1990s revealed that alkaline hydrolysis had many safety benefits. One being that the process safely destroys:

  • Pathologic waste
  • Fixing agents
  • Cytotoxic drugs
  • Biological toxins 
  • Pathogens 

These first modern-day commercial systems for alkaline hydrolysis were game-changing in many ways. The medical facilities and research centers that used alkaline hydrolysis for human disposition in the 1990s proved not only its efficacy but that in many ways it was a superior form of disposition.

Want to know more about the alkaline hydrolysis cremation process? Our knowledgeable funeral director can provide a detailed explanation and answer all of your questions. We’re available by phone, text or email 24 hours a day.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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