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Portrait of Ernest Solvay

Portrait of Ernest Solvay

H419/0120

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Ernest Solvay (1838-1922), Belgian industrial chemist. With his father and uncle both industrial chemists, it is not surprising that Solvay became interested in chemistry at an early age. Solvay achieved fame by being the first to solve the problems of producing sodium carbonate (soda) from ammonium carbonate and brine. The Solvay Process, as it is known, was patented in 1861 and the first works were built in 1863. By 1900, 95% of the world's soda production used his process, and prices had dropped by 50%. Solvay made his fortune with this, but was generous in nature. In 1911 he established the Solvay conferences, where much of modern physics was discussed and developed.

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