PAN was first synthesized in 1930 by Dr. Hans Fikentscher and Dr. Claus Heuck in laboratories in Ludwigshafen of the German company IG Farben which applied for a patent for its polymerization method entitled "VerfahrenzurHerstellung von Polymerisationsprodukten".
However, since PAN was insoluble in most common solvents, the substance was found to be unusable.
It was only when chemist Dr. Herbert Rein (1899-1955) of IG Farben of Bitterfeld discovered in 1931 that PAN, obtained from a sample when visiting the Ludwigshafen plant, could be dissolved in the ionic liquid 1-benzylpyridinium (1- Benzylpyridinium chloride) and transformed into fibers.
In 1942 this researcher discovered that an even better solvent for PAN was dimethylformamide (DMF), which allowed the development of the spinning process for the production of fibers and films.
Due to the attack of the IG Farben facilities during World War II by the Allied forces and the decline of their production, the investigations were interrupted and the process was not brought to an industrial scale.
The start of large-scale PAN production was made by Du Pont in 1946 for the production of the "Orlon" fibers, which patented the process known as wet spinning.
Shortly thereafter, the Dormagen Bayer company, which originated from the fragmentation of the IG Farben trust, patented another PAN spinning process known as dry spinning and the production of "Dralon" fibers began.