X-Message-Number: 3430
Date: 29 Nov 94 02:43:37 EST
From: John de Rivaz <>
Subject: CRYONICS:permafrost ideas

This article is in the current Longevity Report, due to be mailed shortly.
Anyone interested in an emailed contents list of the entire magazine since it
started, please contact me.

                       By Douglas Skrecky

     Michael Soloviov's permafrost burial project in Russian Lapland might be
 better off if it started operations further east. According to my sources
 there exists only discontinuous permafrost in this area. Investing in a
 mineshaft or some such property to obtain an adequate burial site in Lapland
 might be more expensive than utlizing established cemetaries located east in
 the continuous permafrost zone. Judging from a map in an atlas there appears
 to be good transport conditions from the town of Konosha, south of
 Arkhangelsk to the city of Vorkuta, which lies northeast in the continuous
 permafrost zone. *1 Presumably certain cemetaries in this area could be used
 as low cost burial sites.
     If I am wrong in this here are some suggestions for finding islands of
 permafrost in Russian lapland. In North America permafrost is found in
 peatlands far south of even the discontinuous permafrost zone. *2 This is
 apparently due both to the insulating nature of peat in the summer and the
 fact that it is permeable to water vapor so that the permafrost can remain
 cool by sweating during the summer. *3 If peatlands are not available try
 examining valley bottoms and north facing slopes. In Canada valley bottoms in
 the discontinuous permafrost zone remain frozen all year because of the
 tendancy for cold air to sink into them during the winter. Northern slopes
 have generally also been found to be perennially frozen due to the reduced
 solar radiation these slopes recieve during the summer. *4 One could expect
 good results from mine shafts sunk into north facing slopes.
      As an additional inexpensive measure one could increase the albedo of
 the ground surface to reflect more of the sun's radiation. For example white
 paint on asphaltic concrete increases albedo from 13% to 38% and has been
 proven to help lower ground temperature. *5 For cemetary plots spreading some
 chalk or perlite on the ground would presumably have a similar effect.
     Expensive techniques used for stabilizing permafrost in North America
 include the use of buried 90 mm polystyrene boards and passive refrigeration
 with thermosyphons, which consist of sealed pipes enclosing a refrigerant. *6
 *7 The disadvantage of the former is that polystyrene is impermeable to water
 vapour and so one would expect better results with permeable insulations of
 equivalent R value. The disadvantage of thermosyphons is that if they ever
 develop a leak the cooling effect provided during the winter would be lost. A
 better, more long lasting alternative would be to use a permeable insulation
 such as perlite, vermiculite or even peat as when these freeze in the winter
 their insulating value is reduced so that the ground temperature could then
 be lowered by thermal conduction from the cold winter air. It is only during
 the summer that insulation is desired, during the winter it is
     In my opinion teaming desiccation with permafrost burial makes more sense
 as a business proposition than offering permafrost burial by itself. Food
 kept frozen at temperatures typical of permafrost deteriorates at rates many
 orders of magnitude faster than dried rations. Desiccation plus permafrost
 burial is thus a vastly more desirable preservation technique than using just
 permafrost alone and so this service could be sold at a significantly higher
 price to prospective clients. Considering the fixed transportation costs to
 Russia I suspect that only a "deluxe" permafrost burial service would attract
 much interest from foreigners. The costs associated with this enhanced
 service need not be much higher if an in-package desiccant such as calcium
 oxide is added to the time capsule to dry tissue inexpensively during
 longterm storage.
     Offering a range of services would increase the potential client base as
 well as possibly increase profitability. Taking a cue from the American
 cryonicists, the option to preserve just the head or brain apparently reduced
 storage costs by as much as an order of magnitude, while the price this
 service is sold at is just half that of full body preservation. If permafrost
 burial ever becomes a 'mainstream' funeral home offering I strongly suspect
 it will involve primarily the lowest cost and most profitable option of
 preservation of just the head or brain. After all, from the standpoint of
 future reanimation chances the rest of the body is just so much dead weight.

 *1 "Climate Warming and the Carbon Cycle in the Permafrost Zone of the Former
 Soviet Union" Vol.4 149-163 1993 Permafrost and Periglacial Processes
 *2 "Cyclic Development of Permafrost in the Peatlands of Northwestern
 Alberta, Canada" Vol.25 No.3 240-246 1993 Arctic and Alpine Research
 *3 "What Makes Permafrost Permanent?" Vol.81 527-528 1993 American Scientist
 *4 "Permafrost and Ground Ice Conditions Reported During Geotechnical
 Investigations in the Mayo District, Yukon Territory" Vol.2 259-268 1991
 Permafrost and Periglacial Processes
 *5 "Effect of Color and Texture on the Surface Temperature of Asphalt
 Concrete Pavements" Fourth International Permafrost Conference July
 17-22,1983 57-61
 *6 "Performance of an Insulated Roadway on Permafrost Inuvik, N.W.T." Fourth
 International Permafrost Conference July 17-22,1983 548-551
 *7 "Using Passive Refrigeration to Stabilize Foundations in Cold Climates"
 32-37 September 1993 ASHRAE Journal

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=3430