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Title:
COFFIN FOR BURIAL AND CREMATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/175518
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
The present invention concerns a coffin (1 ) fully out of polymeric materials that may be obtained from renewable animal or vegetal origin, or from their combinations in any polymerization sequence, wherein said polymeric materials: - are biodegradable and compostable; - have mechanical resistance, impermeability and tightness features equal to those of wood; - are permeable to oxygen. Said coffin (1) comprises internal and external accessories fully out of biopolymers of animal and/or vegetal origin, as well as colouration and/or decorations fully out of biopolymers of animal and/or vegetal origin, as well. Said coffin (1) further comprises: - a shell (2', 2") and a lid (3', 3") with modular or monolithic structure; - cavities (4) for lightening said coffin, - containing cavities (5) for containing decomposition gases and fluids.

Inventors:
RECANATINI, Paolo (Via Leonello Spada 3, Osimo, I-60027, IT)
Application Number:
IT2013/000146
Publication Date:
November 28, 2013
Filing Date:
May 23, 2013
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RECANATINI, Paolo (Via Leonello Spada 3, Osimo, I-60027, IT)
International Classes:
A61G17/007
Domestic Patent References:
2005-04-21
Foreign References:
DE19744331A11999-04-15
US20020084549A12002-07-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARI, Marco Giovanni (Via Leonina 26, Roma, I-00184, IT)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A coffin (1) for burial, inhumation and cremation, characterized in that it is completely made out of biodegradable and compostable polymeric materials of vegetal and/or animal origin.

2. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that said polymeric materials are of the kind that can be obtained from renewable sources of animal or vegetal origin, or from their combinations in any polymerization sequence.

3. Coffin (1 ) according to claims 1 or 2, characterized in that said polymeric materials have mechanical resistance, impermeability and tightness equal to those of wood.

4. Coffin (1 ) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises polymeric materials of thermosetting kind.

5. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises polymeric materials permeable to oxygen.

6. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises polymeric materials containing vegetal fibres and/or mineral fillers.

7. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises polymeric materials that can be worked with techniques like compression moulding, injection moulding, transfer moulding, extrusion forming, casting forming, blow forming and thermoforming.

8. Coffin (1 ) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises internal and external accessories completely out of polymeric materials of animal and/or vegetal origin.

9. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 characterized in that it comprises colourings and/or decorations applied with dyes or surface finishing films realized with polymeric materials of animal and/or vegetal origin.

10. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises a shell (2') and a lid (3') with modular structure.

11. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises a shell (2") and a lid (3") with monolithic structure.

12. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises a cavity (4) for lightening the coffin.

13. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises a cavity (5) for containing decomposition gases and fluids.

14. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises valves (6) for exhaust and/or filtering of decomposition gas.

15. Coffin (1) according to claim 1 , characterized in that it comprises closing stoppers (8) of the sealing kind.

16. Coffin (1) according to claims 14 or 15, characterized in that it comprises housings (7) provided in the structure of the sole shells (2', 2") of the coffin (1), adapted to cooperate alternatively with said valves (6) and with said closing stoppers (8).

Description:
COFFIN FOR BURIAL AND CREMATION

* * * * *

The present invention relates to the field of funeral services for burial in the ground, burial in niches and cremation, as well as for exhumation and re-inhumation into ossuaries.

More in detail, it concerns a biodegradable and compostable coffin for burial, completely made out of polymeric materials of animal and/or vegetal origin (biopolymers).

In the following specification, a coffin for burial means any burial container of bodies or mortal remains, i.e. caskets, urns etc.

As it is well known, in the last 150 years there has been a significant increase in carbon dioxide (and harmful gases in general) emitted in the atmosphere (from about 280 ppm in 1850 to about 398 ppm in 2013), mainly due to human activities contemporary to and following the Industrial Revolution.

As it is further known, and considering the constant level of carbon dioxide of natural origin, about 22% of the present carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere derives from human activities like the use of fossil fuels, deforestation due to cutting and/or burning, indiscriminate cementing and so on.

The production of wooden coffins undoubtedly is one of human activities contributing to above mentioned increase of carbon dioxide and harmful gases emissions in the atmosphere, of energy consumption and unavoidably also of deforestation.

In fact, the production of wooden coffins implies the simultaneous production of wooden waste contaminated by adhesives, oils and other processing materials, such as to require disposal at specialized plants with following carbon dioxide and harmful gases emission into the atmosphere, with energy consumption and costs deriving directly from the transport and ashing of the same.

Furthermore, the production of wooden coffins requires for the Italian market only, the annual felling of about 150,000 plants of different kinds of wood, which means annual deforestation of about 800 ha of forest area, whose time of regrowth varies from 30 to 100 years.

According to present Italian rules it is allowed, in the field of coffin production, to use materials alternative to those provided for in the articles 30-75 D.P.R. 10/09/1990, provided they are authorized by the Health Ministry.

Therefore, it is the aim of the present invention to reduce the environmental problems directly depending on the production of wooden coffins, by using appropriate alternative materials.

It is also the aim of the present invention to overcome the negativities and limitations deriving from the common use of said wooden coffins.

The purposes set forth are reached, according to the present invention, by a coffin characterized in that it is completely realized out of polymeric biodegradable and compostable polymeric materials of vegetal and/or animal origin.

Further features of the coffin according to the present invention are described in the depending claims.

The present invention has the following many and important advantages, obtained by the sole use of polymeric materials of animal and/or vegetal origin, which allows:

- to realize a completely biodegradable and compostable coffin; to realize a coffin exploiting raw materials with annual renewal; to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and harmful gases into the atmosphere, energy consumption and the costs usually deriving from the ashing of the conventional coffins at the end of the years of inhumation provided by the law, as well as the cremation of the same;

to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and harmful gases into the atmosphere, energy consumption and the costs usually deriving from the transport and ashing of the contaminated wood waste resulting from the production of conventional coffins;

to realize a coffin easy and quick in production and consequently inexpensive;

to realize a coffin that may be easily modified and/or decorated with external and internal accessories, in turn realized with polymeric materials of animal and/or vegetal origin;

to realize a coffin that may be easily coloured and/or decorated with dyes and films for surface finishing, in turn realized with polymeric materials of animal and/or vegetal origin;

to realize a coffin which is resistant and light, that may be easily transported by traders and easily manageable by funeral operators;

to realize a coffin that may be used for the different burials usually performed, and which does not require the use of the conventional zinc counter-coffin;

to realize a coffin that may be used for transporting the dead on distances over 100 km, allowing to overcome the limitations imposed by Italian (D.P.R. 285/75) and European (Berlin Convention) rules in the field, as well as for shorter distances. Further features and advantages of the present invention will better result from the following detailed specification and relating to the enclosed drawings in which one preferred embodiment is shown for exemplifying and not limiting purposes, wherein:

- figures 1a, 1b, 1c and 1d show, in a top plan view, a coffin for burial, inhumation and cremation according to the present invention, in alternative realization forms;

- figures 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d show the same shapes in a front plan view;

- figure 3 shows, in a plan vertical section, the structure of a coffin according to the present invention, with modular shell and lid provided with cavities for lightening the coffin;

- figure 4 shows, in a plan vertical section, the structure of the coffin according to the present invention, with modular shell and lid, respectively provided with containing cavities for containing decomposition gases and/or fluids, and with cavities for lightening the coffin;

- figures 5 and 6 show, in a plan vertical section the structure of the coffin according to the present invention, with shell and lid of the monolithic type.

According to the present invention, the coffin 1 is entirely realized with polymeric materials that can be obtained from renewable sources of animal or vegetal origin, or from their combinations in any polymerization sequence, preferably chosen among those having:

- features of biodegradability and compostability adhering to European rules UNI EN ISO 14855 and UNI EN ISO 14995 (Evaluation of compostability - Test scheme and specification - 13/12/2006), as well as to USA rule ASTM D6400;

- features of mechanic resistance, impermeability and tightness corresponding to those of wood (or even better);

- features of permeability to oxygen.

Above mentioned rules describe the requirements and the procedures for determining the biodegradability and compostability of the materials and of the anaerobic disposal processes thereof, with particular reference to biodegradability, disintegration and to the quality of the resulting muds.

In the following, a list of polymeric materials of animal and/or vegetal origin responding to above mentioned requirements and usually commercially available, which e.g. are:

- corn, potato and wheat starch;

- lignin or cellulose;

- PSB (polybutilene succinnate);

- PLA (polylactic acid);

- PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate);

- PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate);

- PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate);

- polyesters deriving from non renewable sources;

- bacteric fermentations deriving from renewable sources PHA;

- wastes deriving from cheese production, processing of waste, of seaweeds, and so on;

- waste deriving from animal breeding.

A preferred commercial product, responding to all mentioned requirements, is BIOGRADE C 9950, produced by FKUR PLASTICS. Said product consists of a cellulose mixture, particularly suitable for injection moulding (VICAT temperature A=115°C), characterized in high levels of thermoresistance.

Another preferred commercial product, responding to all mentioned requirements, is BIOFLEX F 6611 , also produced by FKUR PLASTICS. Said product consists of a mixture of stereocomplex PLA, PBAT and different additives and fillers, particularly suitable for injection moulding, extrusion or thermoforming (VICAT temperature A=62°C or VICAT temperature A=170°C after crystallization), characterized in high thermoresistance levels, high permeability levels to water steam (about 10 times the permeability of polypropylene) and in high levels of oxygen barrier (about four times the level of OTR - Oxygen Transmission Rate - barrier of polypropylene).

Above mentioned VICAT temperature refers to the softening point of the materials which don't have a definite melting point, like conventional plastics and also bioplastics of biopolymeric source.

For obtaining coffins 1 responding to the requirements of the different burials usually performed, the biopolymers used for the realization of said coffin 1 may comprise also vegetal fibres and/or mineral fillers, in any case responding to above mentioned requirements.

The special features of biodegradability and compostability of said biopolymers allow the complete natural decay of said coffin 1 , determined by its decomposition into carbon dioxide without releasing heavy metals in the ground, thus avoiding the ashing of said coffin 1 provided at the end of the inhumation period required by law. The failure of ashing said coffin 1 consequently eliminates the emission of carbon dioxide and harmful gases in the atmosphere, energy consumption and costs usually deriving from said procedure.

The particular features of mechanical resistance, impermeability and tightness of said biopolymers make said coffin 1 perfectly corresponding to the requirements of mechanical resistance, impermeability and tightness (similar to those of wood) required by Italian rules in the field (D.P.R. 285/90) for the services of burial, inhumation and cremation.

The particular chemical and physical features of said biopolymers give said coffin 1 a weight lower than the one of conventional coffins with a mechanical resistance equal to the same.

The special combustibility of said biopolymers allows to cremate said coffin 1 without emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere as said biopolymers release only carbon dioxide of natural origin and possibly water vapour, according to the burning processes typical of material of biological origin (like wood).

The special permeability to water steam of said biopolymers favours, in case of burial, a quick moisture exchange between said coffin 1 and the ground (accelerated by the common action of biodegradation of bacteria), consequently determining a considerable reduction of the times of decomposition of the body contained therein. This feature allows the inhumation of said coffin 1 in case of dead people who are to be transported for more than 100 km as well, thus overcoming the limits imposed by Italian rules (D.P.R. 285/75) and European rules (Berlin Convention) in the field.

On the other hand, in case of burial the particular permeability to water vapour of said biopolymers favours the partial transpiration of the decomposition fluids in the coffin 1. This feature helps to lower down the pressure produced by the decomposition gases inside said coffin 1 , as well as the decomposition due to dehydration of the body contained therein.

Moreover, the biopolymers are divided into:

- thermoplastic, gaining malleability and therefore workability when warming up, and stiffness when cooling down, with working processes to be repeated again and again;

- thermosetting, gaining malleability and therefore workability when warming up and stiffness when cooling down, with working processes that may performed once only.

Conveniently, thermosetting biopolymers degrade naturally due to bacteria, molds or organic materials, and if they are warmed up after stiffening, they degrade due to carbonization.

Therefore, the particular features of thermoresistance of thermosetting biopolymers give said coffin 1 such a mechanical resistance as to avoid permanent deformations during the steps of storage, transport and use.

Through the use of said biopolymers, said coffin 1 may be realized with techniques like compression moulding, injection moulding, transfer moulding, extrusion forming, casting forming, blow forming, thermoforming and other, with undoubted advantages of speed and low cost with respect to the common working techniques usually applied to woods for burial use.

Due to the use of said biopolymers, said coffin 1 may comprise a shell 2' and a lid 3', with a completely modular structure, and that may be obtained by composing single preshaped parts with above mentioned techniques, that can be reciprocally assembled with adhesives, dowels and screws of any kind, and according to favourite shapes (of irregular hexagonal kind, irregular octagonal kind, rectangular, trapezoidal etc.) and dimensions (length LU equal to 0,6 m to 2,2 m; width LA equal to 0,3m to 0,70 m; height H equal to 0,1 m to 0,6 m) which are difficult to obtain with the working techniques usually applied to woods for burial use.

As an alternative, said coffin 1 may comprise a shell 2" and a lid 3", with monolithic structure, which may be obtained by single extrusion processes.

For maintaining unchanged the desired features of biodegradability and compostability, said coffin 1 may comprise internal and external accessories (lifting handles, paddings, veils, crosses and/or religious images, supporting and/or rising elements, etc.) entirely out of biopolymers of animal and/or vegetal origin, as well as colourations and/or decorations performed with dyes and/or surface finishing films also entirely out of biopolymers of animal and/or vegetal origin. Moreover, said coffin 1 may comprise accessories (recessed handles, etc.) and/or decorations directly applied on its structure by means of engraving or similar material removing techniques.

Through the use of said biopolymers, said coffin 1 may be realized with reduced thicknesses which are difficult to obtain by the working techniques usually applied to woods for burial use, such as to help the optimization of degradation times of said coffin 1 and consequently the demineralization of the body contained therein, thus allowing also a partial solution of the space problems in the cemeteries, due to a faster turnover of the occupied niches.

Said thicknesses allow to perform special cavities 4 for lightening the coffin in the structure of said shells 2', 2" and lids 3', 3" of said coffin 1 , such as to favour the handling and transport phases by the traders, as well as the use (uplifting, translation etc) by the burial operators.

On the other hand, said thicknesses allow to perform special containing cavities 5 for containing gases and fluid deriving from the decomposition of the body contained therein, in the sole structure of said shells 2', 2" of said coffin 1. The containing cavities 5 avoid the insertion of the conventional zinc counter-coffin into the coffin 1 , leaving it to said coffin 1 to contain said decomposition gases and fluids, as the same is totally responding to the requirements of mechanical resistance, impermeability and tightness required by Italian rules in the field (D.P.R. 285/90) for burial, inhumation and cremation.

Furthermore, said thicknesses allow the insertion into the structure of the sole shells 2', 2" of said coffin 1 of special valves 6, for the exhaust and/or activated carbon filtration, such as to determine the fixing and the partial neutralization of said decomposition gases and consequently to avoid the formation of overpressure inside said coffin 1 , as required by Italian rules in the field (D.P.R. 285/90).

Said valves 6 are inserted into housings 7 provided in the structure of the sole shells 2', 2" of said coffin 1 , wherein said housings 7 communicate with said containing cavities 5, or alternatively with special exhaust ducts.

Moreover, said housings 7 may be closed with stoppers 8, of the sealing kind, should said valves 6 not be used.

In possible embodiments particularly turned to the cheapness of the end product, said coffin 1 may comprise shells 2', 2" and lids 3', 3" deliberately without the above mentioned elements (cavities for lightening said coffin, containing cavities, valves etc.).

The above described coffin 1 is thus safe, since it is provided with appropriate levels of mechanical resistance, impermeability and tightness; it is easy to handle and use, as it is light and undeformable, of low environmental impact, as it is completely biodegradable and compostable, and fully responding to any kind of compatible use (burial, inhumation and cremation as well as exhumation and re-inhumation into ossuaries).