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Ernest Solvay. Portrait of Ernest Solvay (1838- 1922), Belgian industrial chemist. Solvay achieved fame by being the first to produce 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's process was also much less polluting than the Leblanc process previously used. Solvay made his fortune with this, but was generous in nature, founding institutes of physics, chemistry and sociology.
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