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Two beautiful young female scientists working in laboratory with test tubes and doing some research

The Solvay DNA: process innovation

In 1863, Ernest Solvay, the founder of Solvay, invented a radically new process for the production of soda ash. This technological breakthrough was so successful that by 1900, it was used to produce 95% of the soda ash consumed worldwide. 

The process innovation sparked change across industries, inspiring scientists and entrepreneurs around the world. Today it's used to produce soda ash and sodium bicarbonate for applications in a wide range of sectors - from glass, detergents, and food additives to rechargeable batteries, flue gas treatment, and insulation foam for buildings. 

Fast forward to today and you’ll find that Ernest Solvay’s pioneering spirit lives on in our company and within our diverse global team. We now have over 9,000 people, including 200 researchers, working across 20 countries focused on mastering the elements that are essential to our world. 

As a world-leading company, we are committed to society, investing in process innovation and supporting the energy transition to help us minimize our carbon footprint. Our objectives incorporate social and sustainability initiatives focused on the health and wellbeing of our employees, our communities, and our planet. 

It’s our aim to deliver carbon neutrality through investments in energy. Since our founding, we have been advancing the market, enabling us to become an industry leader and to drive progress. It’s what we have done since 1863 and it’s what we will continue to do - use the power of chemistry to shape a more sustainable future. 

Key figures

scientists
200+
research centers
6
sites
42

The Solvay products: essential to the everyday 

Solvay’s products are quietly powerful. Invisible yet vital, they’re at the heart of everyday life, harnessing the power of chemistry to address the world’s most pressing needs in an innovative and sustainable way. Impacting businesses and individuals in areas including agriculture, feed and food, automotive, building and construction, consumer goods and healthcare, electronics, resources, environment, energy and industrial applications, our solutions help preserve our food, purify our water, produce sustainable clothing, and maintain the cleanliness of our homes. 

These essential products help drive sustainability, business viability and most importantly, progress for our planet and its people. We’re perfecting the processes for chemicals like soda ash, peroxides, and silica whose uses include batteries and the automotive industry. 

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Inventing the Solvay Soda Ash Process… Again!

The Solvay approach: inventing and reinventing 

Solvay is on a perpetual quest for excellence. Just because we’ve mastered a breakthrough process, doesn’t mean we stop there. We keep looking for new ways to invent, improve, and reinvent, ensuring the products we offer are as high-quality and as sustainable as possible. 

It’s why after nearly 30 years of fundamental research, we’re launching a new pilot project in Dombasle, France, to develop a more sustainable process for producing soda ash. This comes 160 years after Ernest Solvay revolutionized the original process. For more than a century and a half Solvay has been mastering the essentials – to drive innovation and continuous progress for our planet and its people. And we are continuing to do so. 

Sustainability

For more on our commitments to people and planet, explore our Sustainability, Climate and Better Life sections.