- Solvay, Ernest
- (1838-1922)Born at Rebecq-Rognon on 16 April 1838, Ernest Solvay showed an early interest in scientific subjects, most especially chemistry, physics, and natural history. Prevented by illness from attending university, he took a position in the gas works of his uncle. Together with his brother Alfred, Solvay developed a revolutionary process for industrial fabrication of sodium carbonate. To undertake production, the two founded, on 24 December 1863, the Société Solvay et Cie, which grew to become one of the world's major chemical firms, garnering great wealth for Solvay.An active philanthropist, Solvay founded scientific institutes, including those of physiology (1895) and sociology (1901), as well as the Solvay School of Business (1902). He endowed the Bibliothèque Solvay, which housed the Institute of Sociology (See UNIVERSITÉ LIBRE DE BRUXELLES). He also sponsored creation of the Parc Tournay-Solvay in Watermael-Boitsfort. In 1914, Solvay founded the Comité national de Secours et d'Alimentation, which played a central role in supplying provisions to Belgian civilians during World War I.In 1911, Solvay organized a meeting in Brussels of the world's leading chemists and physicists, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Max Planck, and Ernest Rutherford. The conference gave birth to the Solvay International Physics Council, an assembly that drew many of the world's leading scientists to 20 triennial meetings between 1911 and 1991.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.