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 Ernest Solvay

Ernest Solvay

Birth
Rebecq, Arrondissement de Nivelles, Walloon Brabant, Belgium
Death 26 May 1922 (aged 84)
Ixelles, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Burial Ixelles, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Memorial ID 5891 · View Source
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Belgian Chemist, Industrialist, and Philanthropist. He is best remembered for developing ammonia-soda process for the manufacture of soda ash (anhydrous sodium carbonate) from brine (as a source of sodium chloride) and limestone (as a source of calcium carbonate). He was born in Rebecq, in the Walloon Brabant province of Belgium on April 16, 1838. Because he suffered from acute pleurisy, he could not attend college and started working in his uncle's chemical factory when he was 21 years old. In 1861 he developed the ammonia-soda process which was an improvement over the earlier Leblanc process which gradually became obsolete. He founded the company Solvay & Cie and established his first factory at Couillet (now merged into Charleroi, Belgium) in 1863, further perfecting the process until 1872, when he patented it. Soon afterward, Solvay process plants were established in the England, the US, Germany, Italy, and Austria, with about 70 Solvay process plants still operational worldwide. His patents brought him considerable wealth, which he used for philanthropic purposes, including the establishment in 1894 of the "Institut des Sciences Sociales" (ISS) or Institute for Sociology at the Free University of Brussels (now split into the Universite Libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel), as well as International Institutes for Physics and Chemistry. In 1903 he founded the Solvay Business School, also a part of the Free University of Brussels. In 1911 he began a series of important conferences in physics, known as the Solvay Conferences, whose participants included luminaries such as Max Planck, Ernest Rutherford, Maria Sklodowska-Curie, Henri Poincare, and Albert Einstein. He was twice elected to the Belgian Senate for the Liberal Party and appointed Minister of State at the end of his life. He died at Ixelles, Belgium at the age of 84.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 13 Jul 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5891
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ernest Solvay (16 Apr 1838–26 May 1922), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5891, citing Ixelles Communal Cemetery, Ixelles, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium ; Maintained by Find A Grave .