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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
COFFIN
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/147294
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention concerns a coffin for human and animal remains. The coffin comprises a first and a second part, which when joined together form a closed volume. The parts are made of a material that comprises a polyolefin binder and a mineral-based filler. The coffin further comprises access means (8), which at least upon exposure to moisture connect said closed volume (5) with the surroundings.

Inventors:
ROSEN AKE (SE)
Application Number:
SE2008/000373
Publication Date:
December 04, 2008
Filing Date:
May 30, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AKTEC DEV LTD (CN)
ROSEN AKE (SE)
International Classes:
A61G17/007
Domestic Patent References:
WO2006102101A22006-09-28
WO2006075911A12006-07-20
WO2005034828A12005-04-21
Foreign References:
BE1012677A62001-02-06
DE29907409U12000-04-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AKESSON, Jan-Ake (Box 1066, Helsingborg, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A coffin (1 ) for human and animal remains, comprising a first and a second part (2, 3), which when joined together form a closed volume (5) and which are made of a material that comprises a polyolefin binder (12) and a mineral-based filler (13), and access means (8), which at least upon exposure to moisture connect said closed volume (5) with the surroundings.

2. A coffin according to claim 1, wherein said access means (8) consist of perforations or openings.

3. A coffin according to claim 1 or 2, wherein said access means (8) comprise membranes (9).

4. A coffin according to claim 3, wherein said membranes (9) are made of EVOH or starch.

5. A coffin according to claim 1 , wherein said material further comprises starch.

6. A coffin according to claim 1 , wherein said material further comprises organic fibres (14).

7. A coffin according to claim 1, which is produced by injection moulding, thermoforming, blow moulding or profile extrusion.

8. A coffin according to claim 1 , wherein said parts have a thickness of 3-10 mm.

9. A coffin according to claim 1 , wherein said parts are made of a laminate (10) comprising a layer (11 ) that has a longer decomposition time than the other iayers.

10. A coffin according to claim 1 , wherein said material has a density of

2-4 kg/dm 3 .

11. A coffin according to claim 1 , further comprising gripping surfaces (6).

12. A coffin according to claim 1 , further comprising locking means (4) for sealing the coffin parts (2, 3) to form said closed volume (5).

13. A coffin according to claim 1 , further comprising fixation means (7) for fixating said remains.

14. A coffin according to claim 1 , which is intended for interment, cremation or promession.

Description:

COFFIN

Technical Field

The present invention relates to a coffin for human and animal remains, comprising a first and a second part, which when joined together form a closed volume and which are made of a material that comprises a polyolefin binder and a mineral-based filler.

Background Art

There are today basically two generally accepted alternatives for disposing of human and animal remains, either a coffin funeral with interment of the coffin in a specific grave, or cremation followed by spreading of the ashes or interment of the urn and the ashes.

In the case of interment, the remains are usually placed at a depth of 1.8 to 2 metres, where, in the absence of oxygen, a time-consuming anaerobic decomposition takes place under the influence of sulphur- producing microorganisms. Decomposition is slowed down by the anaerobic process as such, but also by the materials that make up the coffin. Moreover, it is generally very difficult for the surrounding vegetation to assimilate the nutrients that are precipitated at that depth.

In the case of cremation, on the other hand, ashes rich in mineral are produced which may be spread or interred in an urn at a depth such that an aerobic decomposition takes place and the vegetation is able to easily assimilate the nutrients. The drawbacks of cremation are, however, the release of toxic substances such as mercury, the considerable consumption of fuel, for instance in the form of fuel oil, and the production of large amounts of carbon dioxide during combustion.

With reference to WO01 /40727, a process known as promession will be described below. The process consists in subjecting the coffin containing the remains to a two-step freezing process followed by freeze-drying and disintegration, whereupon the pieces are gathered and placed in a degradable container for final interment. The container disclosed is made of degradable board or peat. The idea behind this type of process is to enable interment of the remains at a depth of about 25 cm, at which depth aerobic decomposition is rendered possible. This results in a considerably quicker decomposition process and a process which allows the surrounding soil and

vegetation to better and more easily assimilate the precipitated nutrients. However, one drawback of this method is that the remains have, in their natural state, a lower pH value than the surrounding soil, which causes an acidifying effect on the surrounding soil. A common feature of the methods described above is the use of a coffin, which is expensive to manufacture and handle. Examples of less advantageous aspects of the handling of traditional coffins, which are often made of wood, are the consumption of material, the slow decomposition after interment and the energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in connection with cremation. The fact is that a lot of energy is required to cremate a wooden coffin, which in turn results in significant carbon dioxide emissions.

Objects of the Present Invention The object of the present invention is to provide a coffin that may be used for interment on land or at sea, for cremation or for promession and similar methods.

A further object is to provide a coffin that is inexpensive and easy to manufacture. Yet another object is to provide a coffin that enables rapid decomposition of both the coffin itself and the remains in connection with a sea interment.

Summary of the Invention To achieve at least one of the above objects and other non-stated objects, which will appear from the following description, the present invention concerns a coffin for human and animal remains, comprising a first and a second part, which when joined together form a closed volume and which are made of a material that comprises a polyolefin binder and a mineral-based filler. The coffin further comprises access means, which at least upon exposure to moisture connect said closed volume with the surroundings.

The parts making up the coffin, which may be used for both animal and human remains, are made of a material that comprises a polyolefin binder and a mineral-based filler. This offers a number of advantages. The material is degradable when exposed to moisture, which is the case for interment on land or at sea. Owing to the mineral-based filler, the material further has a higher pH value than the actual remains, which are themselves acid, and this

enables the pH value of the remains to be raised and has a favourable effect on the surrounding environment in terms of reduced acidification. Moreover, once degraded the material introduces no impurities that are themselves foreign to nature, since the polyolefin is converted into carbon dioxide and water, while the mineral-based filler is simply returned to nature regardless of whether the coffin is used for interment on land or at sea, for cremation or for promession and similar methods. It has also been found that cremation of the material concerned requires less energy in the form of supplied fuel, such as oil, than cremation of wooden coffins, which results in lower carbon dioxide emissions and lower handling costs. Furthermore, all the raw materials used to make up the material are lightweight and readily available at a low cost. In addition, the material has excellent workability, which offers a high degree of freedom in designing the coffin. The access means ensure rapid formation of a large contact area of the moisture with the coffin interior and the remains, respectively, to achieve rapid and efficient decomposition. The moisture may be the natural moisture content of the surrounding soil or, alternatively, the water in which the coffin is submerged, depending on whether the interment takes place on land or at sea.

The access means may be perforations or openings, through which the moisture in the medium in which the coffin is interred may penetrate directly and unimpeded and both mix with the remains and enter into contact with the inside of the coffin in order to speed up the decomposition of both the coffin and the remains.

The access means may comprise membranes. The membranes may either be arranged over pre-formed perforations/openings that serve as access means or be provided in the form of wall portions with locaiiy smaϋer wall thickness. Advantageously, the membranes may be made of a material that decomposes upon exposure to moisture, such as EVOH or starch. The coffin may be made of a material that further contains starch. Starch is an inexpensive material which occurs naturally in nature and which binds moisture and is rapidly degraded thereby. The decomposition speed may be regulated by the amount of starch.

Furthermore, the material of which the coffin and its parts are made may comprise organic fibres. The organic fibres produce, by themselves or in combination with the mineral-based filler, a hygroscopic effect, which by capillary action conducts moisture from the surrounding medium (soil or

water) to the closed volume of the coffin, but also into the actual material. The organic fibres may consist of chopped vegetable fibres, such as hemp or flax.

The coffin may be produced by injection moulding, thermoforming, blow moulding or profile extrusion. These are all methods that offer a high degree of freedom in the geometric designing of the coffin, which is something that may be exploited on the one hand to give the coffin an aesthetically appealing design and, on the other, to integrate sealing means such as locks in the coffin parts.

The coffin parts may have a thickness of 3-10 mm. The thickness may be selected based, for one thing, on the desired strength and manageability and, for another, on the desired decomposition speed. The strength and manageability in particular are important parameters in the case where the coffin is intended for cremation or promession, since this implies mechanical handling of the coffin. The coffin parts may be made of a laminate comprising a layer that has a longer decomposition time than the other layers. This is advantageous in the cases where the coffin is intended for use in countries/environments with a moist climate as it prolongs storage life prior to use.

If the coffin is intended for interment at sea, the material of which it is made may have a density of 2-4 kg/dm 3 , which is sufficient to make the coffin sink when submerged.

The coffin may further include gripping surfaces. These may be specifically designed to match the handling equipment used in crematories or equipment used in the promession process. They may further be formed in one piece with the coffin or as loose parts adapted for mounting thereon.

Furthermore, the coffin may comprise locking means for sealing the parts of the coffin to form said closed volume. The locking means may be mechanical locks, but may also be sealing surfaces that allow sealing of the coffin by means of, for example, thermal welding or ultrasonic weiding. The coffin may comprise fixation means for fixating said remains, so that they stay in place after the coffin has been deposited.

The coffin may be adapted for interment, cremation or promession. The term promession here includes methods similar to promession.

Description of the Drawings

The invention will be described in more detail below for the purpose of exemplification, reference being made to the accompanying drawings.

Fig. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a coffin according to a first embodiment of the invention.

Figs 2a and 2b are schematic views of two embodiments of access means provided with membranes. Fig. 3 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the material in the form of a laminate.

Fig. 4 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a further embodiment of the material.

Technical Description

Fig. 1 is a schematic cross-section of a coffin 1 according to a first embodiment of the invention. The coffin 1 may be used for both human and animal remains. Moreover, the coffin 1 may be used whether it is a traditional interment on land or at sea, a cremation, promession or processes similar thereto.

The coffin 1 comprises a bottom-forming part 3 and a lid-forming part 2. In the embodiment shown, the two parts 2, 3 comprise locking means 4, which upon joining of the two parts 2, 3 enable sealing of the coffin 1 to form a closed volume 5. Depending on the locking means 4 selected, they may be integrated with the parts 2, 3 or be subsequently arranged on the same. In a very simple embodiment, as shown, the locking means 4 may be in the form of overlapping surface portions that allow sealing of the coffin by thermal welding or ultrasonic welding.

In the embodiment shown, the coffin 1 further comprises gripping surfaces 6 in the form of handles and feet to facilitate handling of the coffin. These may be integrated with the coffin parts 2, 3 or be arranged as loose units thereon.

The two parts 2, 3 may be produced by, for instance, injection moulding, thermoforming, blow moulding or profile extrusion. In the case where profile extrusion is used, it will be appreciated that the extruded profile must be provided with end walls to obtain a closed volume.

The manufacturing method chosen may allow a high degree of freedom in the geometric designing of the parts 2, 3 and, thus, of the coffin 1. During manufacture, the coffin and its parts may, for instance, be provided with ornamental decorations.

As shown, the two parts 2, 3 may be arranged as separate parts, but may just as well be formed in one piece with an intermediate hinge joint (not

shown). In the embodiment shown, the coffin is divided into two parts. It will be appreciated, however, that it may be divided into several parts without its function being lost.

Furthermore, the coffin 1 may comprise fixation means 7 for fixating the remains, so that they stay in place after the coffin has been deposited. One example of such a fixation means 7, which is intended as a headrest, is illustrated schematically in Fig. 1. The fixation means 7 should be made of the same type of material as the coffin 1 itself to enable rapid decomposition.

In the embodiment shown, the parts 2, 3 are made of a material that comprises a binder 12 in the form of a polyolefin material, such as polyethylene or polypropylene, and a mineral-based filler 13. The filler is in particulate form and may have a homogeneous or non-homogeneous particle structure and particle size. It should be noted that the material is illustrated highly schematically. Examples of mineral-based fillers are lime, marble and dolomite. The total amount of filler, regardless of form, may be in the range 50-90% by weight.

The material may also contain starch, the amount of which may be varied depending on the desired decomposition speed. The amount should be 1-8% by weight. The advantage of this type of material is that it is degradable upon exposure to moisture. The moisture may, for example, come from the surrounding soil in the cases where the coffin is intended for interment on land, or from the seawater in the case where the coffin is intended for interment at sea. During decomposition, the polyolefin is converted into carbon dioxide and water, while the mineral-based filler and the starch are materials which occur naturally in nature and are returned to nature.

The material is combustible. Tests have shown that cremation may be carried out using even less energy in the form of supplied fuel than in the case of a traditional wooden coffin. During combustion, the poiyolefin is converted into carbon dioxide and water while at the same time the mineral- based filler, whether it is a matter of cremation, interment or promession, contributes to raising the pH-value of the naturally acid remains and, thus, to reducing the acidification of the environment,

In the embodiment shown, each part is provided with access means 8 in the form of through perforations or openings. The access means serve two purposes.

In the case where the coffin 1 is intended for interment on land or at sea, the coffin's closed volume 5 and its contents may be brought into contact, via the access means 8, with the moisture in the medium (soil or water) in which the coffin is to be interred. Depending on the size of the access means 8, the penetration of moisture may occur directly or by capillary action. This means that also the porosity of the material of which the coffin parts are made may constitute said access means 8. It will therefore be appreciated that the moisture migration also occurs in and through the material as such. When the moisture penetrates into the closed volume of the coffin 1 and enters into contact with the remains and the inner wall portions of the coffin, it has the effect of accelerating the decomposition of both the remains and the coffin.

In the case where the coffin 1 is intended for promession or a similar process, the access means 8 may be used to accelerate the freezing process by allowing direct contact between the remains and the refrigerant, for example liquid nitrogen, used in the freezing process. The coffin is well suited for promession since the material of which it is made is such that no substances foreign to nature are introduced. Moreover, the material becomes very brittle when frozen, which facilitates the disintegration of the coffin during promession.

The access means 8 may be omitted in cases where the coffin 1 and its remains are intended for cremation.

Referring now to Fig. 2a, an alternative embodiment of the access means 8 is schematically illustrated. In the embodiment shown, the access means 8 consist of openings, which on one side are provided with a thin membrane 9. In the embodiment shown, the membrane 9 is arranged on the outside of the coffin 1 in the form of a thin layer. The membrane 9 may be made of EVOH or starch or any other material that is rapidly decomposed upon exposure to moisture, so as to form through openings which allow the closed volume of the coffin to communicate with the surroundings. Referring to Fig. 2b, the membrane 9 may also be made of a material whose thickness is smaller in a local area over the access means 8, whereby this is decomposed more rapidly than the surrounding material. The membrane 9 may be integrated with the coffin parts 2, 3 or consist of a separate insert or an external shell.

Access means provided with membranes are advantageous primarily in the case where the coffin is intended for interment on land.

Membranes 9 may also be used to enable ornamentation (not shown) of the coffin, the ornamentation as such consisting in an aesthetically appealing pattern formed by the access means, which in turn are covered by said membranes to form a tight closed volume.

The membrane may be integrated with the coffin parts or may consist of a separate insert or an external shell.

Fig. 3 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a material which is formed as a laminate 10 comprising a layer 11 that in itself has a lower decomposition speed than the surrounding material or material layers. The surrounding material is illustrated as a binder 12 and a mineral-based filler 13. In the embodiment shown, this layer is arranged as an external layer. The use of this type of laminate is advantageous in cases where the coffin is intended for use in environments characterised by high atmospheric humidity, since it offers prolonged storage time for the coffin prior to use.

Referring to Fig. 4, an alternative embodiment of the material is illustrated schematically. The material comprises a binder 12 of polyolefin and a filler, which consists partly of a mineral material 13, such as lime, partly of chopped organic fibres 14. The organic fibres 14 produce, by themselves or in combination with the mineral-based filler 13, a hygroscopic effect, which by capillary action conducts moisture from the surrounding medium (soil or water) to the closed volume of the coffin and into the coffin walls. The organic fibres may consist of chopped vegetable fibres, such as hemp or flax. Advantageously, the coffin 1 is made with a wall thickness within the range 3-10 mm to enable handling of the coffin and the remains contained therein both manually and mechanically.

In the case where the coffin 1 is intended for interment at sea, the material may have a density in the range 2-4 kg/dm 3 , which means that the coffin wiii sink to the bottom when submerged. Furthermore, it will be appreciated that any access means 8 should be through-going to allow rapid submersion.

Advantageously, the coffin 1 may be used together with a wrapping material for wrapping the remains, said material being made of a film of the same material, i.e. a material comprising a polyolefin binder, a mineral-based filler and, optionally, starch. In general, ail coffin accessories are advantageously made of this material.

It will be appreciated that the above description of the invention is given by way of example only and that the invention is defined by the appended claims.