2000 New Polymer Platform

The advanced DuPont polymer platform upon which Sorona® polymer is based generated nearly 150 patents during the most active portion of the applied research and development that led to successful commercialization of Sorona polymer. The proprietary chemistry involves modifiers and additives developed for targeted fabric functionality in end-use markets.Show more

Sorona polymer uses 1,3 propanediol (PDO) as the key base ingredient, along with other monomers and additives, to create a family of differentiated polymers. The unique properties of Sorona polymer – including softness, easy dyeability, comfort-stretch and recovery – were actually discovered and developed in the early 1940s. But for decades PDO was cost-prohibitive to produce due to several processing factors.


The company continued to make advances over the next few decades, but in the mid-1990s DuPont applied new levels of R&D investment and focus to the challenge of producing PDO cost-effectively. That’s when the comprehensive DuPont patents were created that map the cost-effective production of PDO by two different methods – one using petrochemicals, and the other using breakthrough biotechnology based on fermentation.


The story of Sorona actually began in the early 1900s, when DuPont launched a fundamental research program that sparked the 20th century’s “materials revolution.” Those original teams of DuPont scientists developed an understanding of radical polymerization and established the basic principles of condensation polymerization and the structure of condensation polymers that launched several profitable businesses in fibers, films, plastic resins and finishes.


An early DuPont fiber innovation occurred in 1910 with the development of plastic-coated fibers. Since that time, DuPont has been responsible for nearly 75 percent of the 40-plus major polymers commercially produced, all of which trace their origin to the development of condensation polymerization.


This new way of making polymers was radically different than the previous method, which was based on cellulose chemistry, and catapulted DuPont to the forefront of synthesized polymer technology. By World War II, DuPont had established a strong foundation in polymer science, which led to the introduction of several well-known DuPont polymer-based brands throughout the 20th century.


Those products and brands include rayon and acetate fiber (1920s); Cordura and nylon fiber (1930s); Orlon acrylic fiber (1940s); Dacron polyester fiber (1950s); Antron nylon fiber, Lycra spandex fiber, Nomex aramid fiber, Tyvek spunbonded olefin and Teflon (1960s); Kevlar and Sontara (1970s); Supplex and Coolmax (1980s); and Tactel, Thermolite and Thermoloft (1990s).


While research and development plays a key role in the industry-recognized polymer heritage at DuPont, the company’s knowledge of fiber engineering, mill processing, consumer trends and the textile value chain helps drive the continued success of DuPont in the textile and fabric marketplace.