From the beginning, Solvay has been a proud partner in the Solar Impulse adventure and a valued supplier of the aerospace industry. But did you know that the company has enjoyed an enduring love affair with aviation?
Ernest Solvay himself was fascinated by the technical and scientific advances that could improve the lives of his contemporaries. Already in the early days, he was convinced that aviation would radically change societies. In his private lab, he had his team work since 1890 on a series of personal inventions related to mechanical levitation. Patents were filled then abandoned. Part of this endeavor was entrusted to Robert Goldschmidt, a brilliant young physicist and mechanical genius.
Goldschmidt easily convinced Ernest Solvay to join him in the first Belgian airship adventure. The "Belgique I" filled with hydrogen made several trips in June 1909, flying over the Grand Place of Brussels. With a volume of 3,000 cubic meters and a length of 55 meters, it was flown by a balloonist and two mechanics in absolute silence. It traveled at 40 km/h. Its light structure was a key success factor. All these elements prefigure, a century earlier, the adventure of Solar Impulse.
From the first Belgian airship to finding aircraft weight reduction solutions, Solvay's history is marked by links with the conquest of the skies.