Solvay Invests in Sustainable Soda Ash Process

09.09.2022 - Solvay is launching a pilot project at its site in Dombasle, France, to validate a more sustainable process for producing soda ash.

The move, said Solvay, comes after its researchers and engineers have invented a “breakthrough” method that achieves three “revolutionary” improvements to the existing process, namely emitting 50% less CO2, reducing water, brine and limestone consumption, and eliminating limestone residues. The company added that it has invested €40 million to develop the proprietary technology first patented in 2014.

If the pilot project confirms the viability of the process, Solvay will progressively implement it across its facilities in the next 30 years, as part of its aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and eliminate limestone residues. The technology should allow the Belgian producer’s plants to operate more efficiently and sustainably, while also enhancing their competitiveness.

“Through the relentless improvement of our environmental footprint and pursuit of more innovative solutions, we are reinventing the soda ash process that was developed by Ernest Solvay himself some 160 years ago,” said CEO Ilham Kadri.

Separately, Solvay also announced an action plan to reduce limestone residues released into the sea from its plant in Rosignano, Italy. An estimated €15 million will be spent on new technical and process solutions, some of which will require approval by the authorities.  

The plan will include targeted improvements at different steps of the production process, as well as optimizing the limestone’s granulometry and quality. Solvay’s objective is to cut by 20% the maximum discharge currently set by its Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit, that was renewed in January.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist