After attending various schools, he entered his father's salt making business, moving eventually to his uncle's gasworks where he worked on the Solvay conversion process. He invented the Solvay carbonating tower, in which an ammonia-salt solution could be mixed with carbon dioxide. Along with his brother Alfred, Solvay formed a company and eventually exported his process to international companies. Eventually the Solvay process surplanted the previously used Leblanc Process. In later life, Solvay used his wealth to found international scientific institutes.