Production of Rhodiasolv®IRIS

Creation of a biodegradable solvent manufacturing unit

As one of the world’s leading chemical and materials companies, Solvay is committed to creating safer, cleaner and more sustainable products.

As part of its Solvay One Planet programme, built around three pillars (protecting the climate, preserving resources and promoting a better quality of life), it has developed a biodegradable solvent, Rhodiasolv®IRIS, and entrusted Artelia with the construction of a unit dedicated to its manufacture in France.


Solvay’s Melle plant, which has been in operation for 150 years, covers 40 hectares and employs 150 people. It specialises in the manufacture of high added-value chemicals, in particular for the personal care and detergents markets. Deeply rooted in the Group’s sustainable approach, the site was chosen to host a production unit for Rhodiasolv®IRIS, a new-generation solvent previously made in China. This “high-performance, non-flammable, low-volatility and non-CMR (carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic)” solvent is used in a wide range of applications (crop protection, stripping, degreasing). Solvay considers it to be a flagship product in its range of green solvents. Its manufacturing process, which uses a by-product that was previously burnt, also limits the use of petrochemical resources.

Artelia is in charge of design and supervision of the installation of this new unit at the Melle site. The operation involves modernising an existing production line, which manufactured a similar product, to enable it to produce Rhodiasolv®IRIS. Our teams are responsible for detailed studies, equipment consultation documents, technical specifications for the modified equipment, works contracts, purchasing support, detailed planning, approval of plans for contractors and technical assistance to the project owner. The unit, with a production capacity of 2,850 t/year, is due to come on stream in 2023.