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Biomass briquettes to replace wood in crematoriums

For decades wood has been used to cremate dead bodies and this has ultimately added to air pollution. Rotary Club of Panaji, in a bid to save the environment, has proposed the use of biomass briquettes in crematoriums as an alternative to wood. Speaking about the project at a press conference held on Thursday in Panaji, chairman of Briquettes Committee, Anil Sardesai said that biomass briquettes are manufactured from agricultural wastes like grass from farms, sawdust, groundnut shells and other wastes. “The use of such wastes helps in achieving an ecological balance which is much need,” said Sardesai adding that this project will not only save trees but also money.

As of now the project has been initiated in the St Inez crematorium wherein a special steel container to burn the briquettes has been procured. “Till date we have cremated two bodies using briquettes. While 400 kilograms of firewood is required per cremation, less than 200 kilograms of briquettes can serve the purpose,” said member of the Briquettes Committee, Nester Sequeira adding that the unit cost of firewood is `5 per kilogram and unit cost of briquettes is `6.30 per kilogram.

Sardesai said that an average sized body takes at least 4 to 5 hours to turn to ashes and hence family members can collect the ashes within 24 hours without having to wait for days. “The ashes accumulate in a systematic and organised manner in a tray built under the container,” said Sardesai adding that cremation using briquettes will cost `1500 which is less than the current price of `3000.

Discussing why briquettes are comparatively better than firewood, Sequiera said: “The calorific value of briquettes is 3800 to 4000 whereas the calorific value of firewood is 2000 to 3000. Similarly the ash content of briquettes is 10 to 15 per cent while firewood is 20 to 25 per cent.” While firewood often emits poisonous effluents in the atmosphere briquettes do not release much smoke and sulphur. “An interesting point to note here is that while cremation of a body using firewood requires maximum persons in handling and cutting wood, a single person is enough to lay the briquettes,” said Sequeira.

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