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I would like to buy some polyacrylonitrile (PAN) powder from GoodFellow and I have the choice between these two products:

  • AN316010, quality : Copolymer (99.5% AN / 0.5% MA)
  • AN316020, quality : Copolymer (93.9% AN / 5.8% MA/ 0.3 % MS)

What I do not understand is the meaning of these three acronyms. What is the abbreviation hidden behind AN, MA and MS?

This may be an obvious question but I was unable to find any answer so far. I guess this may be somewhat linked to a certain degree of purity of the product, but since polymers can also be sold with different Monomer / Polymer ratios, I wanted to be sure...


My best guess for now is that AN may be AcryloNitrile, but I have no idea as for MA and MS... MA may be Methacrylic Acid, but could also be Methylmethacrylate Acrylonitrile or Maleic Anhydride (see here). Any help to answer this question is more than welcome.

Although in this particular case I may simply contact the supplier to have my answer I also wonder:

Is there a general way to solve these chemical identification issues or is it up to each supplier to name these types of compounds as they see fit?

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    $\begingroup$ In general, I would contact the supplier for any questions about a product's composition, since that's the only way to be absolutely sure that you get the right answer. In this case, AN is definitely acrylonitrile since the product is called polyacrylonitrile. I'm fairly sure MA is methyl acrylate rather than methacrylic acid or methylmethacrylate, since methyl acrylate is commonly used as a co-monomer in polyacrylonitriles. MS might be methylstyrene, but I'm really not sure. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Feb 16 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thanks for the advice. Indeed, my question was in the meaning "Is there a general way to know such kind of thing or do each supplier have their own formulation?" I will edit my question to be more explicit and also contact the supplier... $\endgroup$ – mranvick Feb 16 at 14:27
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I contacted GoodFellow directly and they gave me the following answer:

  • 93.9% AN: 93.9% AcryloNitrile
  • 5.8% MA: 5.8% Methyl Acrylate
  • 0.3% MS: 0.3% Methyl Sulfonate

I guess different manufacturers may name their products as they see fit. In particular, for polymers that can share the same abbreviations, only the context and a good background knowledge of their synthesis pathway may allow one to decide...

There are, however, IUPAC guidelines for polymer abbreviations available here[1]. In addition several other websites offer their own abbreviation list e.g. here and there.


[1]. J. He et al., Abbreviations of polymer names and guidelines for abbreviating polymer names (IUPAC Recommendations 2014), 2014. DOI: 10.1515/pac-2012-1203

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