Solvay, Ernest Gaston
April 16 , 1838 - May 26 , 1922
Ernest Solvay is a Belgian chemical technologist and industrialist. He was born in Rebec-Ronyon in the family of the owner of a quarry and saltworks. He received a home education. In 1859 he began to help his uncle in the management of a gas plant in Brussels.
The main direction of research is the creation of a chemical technology for the production of soda. In 1861, he discovered that ammonia, carbon dioxide and a solution of table salt react with each other to form sodium bicarbonate, which can be converted into soda (the Solvay method).
Having overcome technological difficulties, in particular, having solved the problem of mixing liquid and gas on an industrial scale, in 1863 he built a soda factory at the expense of his family. The Solvay method quickly became widespread, as it was much simpler and cheaper than the method proposed earlier by N. Leblanc. In 1872, Solvay constructed a carbonation column. By 1890, he had founded soda factories in most of Europe and the USA.
Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (since 1917).