In 1893 acrylonitrile was prepared by Moureu. The monomer found use as a copolymer with styrene, and especially as a terpolymer with styrene and butadiene (ABS).
The homopolymer was developed for the manufacture of fibres in 1940, after a suitable solvent had been discovered by DuPont in the USA. Bayer developed an aqueous based solution.
Pilot scale production was commenced by DuPont in 1943, initially as ‘Fibre A’ and full scale production in 1950 as ‘Orlon’. Production in the UK began in 1959 as ‘Courtelle’ and ‘Acrilan’.