MRO Magazine

Solvay’s Bristol Research Center Marks 10 Years of Innovation

December 8, 2015
By Business Wire News


When consumers open a bottle of shampoo, wash their clothes, drive a car, or turn up the heat on a chilly winter day, they can thank Solvay researchers in Bristol, Pa. for making these modern conveniences more pleasant, effective and consumer-friendly.

Nearly 150 research scientists, customers and coworkers from around the world today celebrated 10 years of “Impacting Innovations” and sustainability milestones at Solvay’s Centre for Research & Innovation in Bristol, Pa. Solvay relocated its North American research center to Bristol in late 2005 from the company’s outdated former laboratory in Cranbury, New Jersey.

During a full day of technical presentations, customer meetings, lab demonstrations, tours and networking, guests viewed first-hand how Solvay’s pioneering spirit, scientific expertise and customer engagement have propelled the research function into a mainstay of innovation for prominent consumer brands and one of Solvay’s key drivers for sustained—and sustainable— growth.

About 100 researchers and support staff, representing 18 different countries work at Solvay’s Bristol site; about 42 percent of the researchers hold doctorate degrees. Their work is mainly focused on the chemistry behind home and personal care consumer products including soaps, detergents, body lotions and household cleaners; energy, industrial and agricultural products; architectural coatings; oil & gas; and rare earth applications and devices used in automotive catalytic converters.

Highlighting the last 10 years, Bristol scientists have secured more than 350 patents in the U.S. and abroad, with another 475 patent applications pending approval around the world. Bristol scientists have authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications of which 15 have been cited more than 15 times each by other scientists and scientific journals.

Recognizing Solvay’s innovations, Thompson-Reuters named Solvay among the world’s top 100 global innovators in recent years.

The Bristol complex also houses the Complex Assemblies of Soft Matter (COMPASS) laboratory, a research collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Laboratory for Research on the Study of Matter (LRSM) and the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the French national center for scientific research. Solvay’s Bristol site also operates within the company’s network of 1,950 staff members at 15 research centers around the world, including laboratories in Belgium, France, Italy, Brazil and China.

Beyond its chemistry research accomplishments, Solvay’s Bristol lab also serves as a practical model for sustainability. In the past decade, Solvay has reduced the building’s total energy consumption by one-third through operational excellence programs. The site’s conversion to natural gas for boiler operations resulted in a 27 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. And the installation of a high-efficiency chiller produced 25 percent savings in cooling costs.

And on a more individual, personal level, employee-based sustainability efforts eliminated Styrofoam cup usage and use of trash liners in offices, resulting in a reduction in the site’s carbon footprint and eliminating 8,000 kg of waste paper per year.

In the local community, Solvay researchers conduct chemistry demonstration programs for middle school students, provide chemistry tutoring for high school and community college students, serve as judges at local science fairs, host summer interns as part of the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED for disadvantaged students, donate food for needy families, and contribute to the United Way of Bucks County. Solvay is also an active participant in the Bristol site’s community advisory council, where leaders of nearby neighborhood, business and school organizations meet for updates on site operations, safety improvements and business conditions.

“Solvay’s Bristol researchers are proud of their work every day, inside the lab and outside,” explained Francine Palmer, director of the Bristol facility. “We are especially proud of the impact of our innovations, our patents, our publications, our collaborations, our sensitivity to our environment and our commitment to our local community.”

“Perhaps most of all,” she observed, “we’re proud to contribute all of our energy to improving our society, one innovation at a time. Our Bristol researchers exemplify the principles set by the company’s founder, Ernest Solvay, more than 150 years ago, when he set the course for ‘science in service to mankind.’”


As an international chemical group, SOLVAY assists industries in finding and implementing ever more responsible and value-creating solutions. Solvay generates 90% of its net sales in activities where it is among the world’s top three players. It serves many markets, varying from energy and the environment to automotive and aerospace or electricity and electronics, with one goal: to raise the performance of its clients and improve society’s quality of life. The group is headquartered in Brussels, employs about 26,000 people in 52 countries and generated 10.2 billion euros in net sales in 2014. Solvay SA (SOLB.BE) is listed on EURONEXT in Brussels and Paris (Bloomberg: SOLB.BB – Reuters: SOLBT.BR).

Solvay Communications North America
David Klucsik, 609-860-3616 (office)
Solvay R&I Communications
Rita Hillig, +33 (1) 53 56 6404