Back to overview

Natural Ionic Liquids and Deep Eutectic Solvents


Researchers from Leiden University and colleagues from Delft have identified novel natural ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents (NADES). NADES may be used for highly efficient extraction and storage of natural products from plants, such as pharmaceuticals and bio-actives, flavors, natural colorants, etc. Since NADES consistent or simple, cheap, and naturally occurring compounds with a high safety profile, extracts may be used directly in food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and agrochemical applications.

Ionic liquids (IL) and deep eutectic solvents (DES) consist of two or more solid crystalline compounds that, when mixed together, form a liquid with unique properties. Currently, IL and DES are consistent or mostly toxic, bulky and asymmetric organic cations and are widely used as solvents for industrial processes such as organic synthesis and extractions.

Technology Overview

Researchers from Leiden University and colleagues in Delft have developed a range of new NADES, that consist solely of natural compounds that are normally present in cells, such as certain sugars, simple organic acids and amino acids.

As a proof-of-principle, it was shown that NADES are excellent solvents for extraction of compounds from biological materials which are otherwise difficult to isolate. Examples include plant colorants and drugs, suggesting applicability in drug delivery and the discovery of novel bio-active plant compounds.

NADES can replace existing synthetic ILs and DES that contain toxic compounds and are thus difficult to dispose of. As the NADES constituents are naturally occurring and safe, very simple to make and cheap, many applications can be envisioned including drug delivery, and extraction of various compounds for use in food, cosmetics or pharmaceuticals.

Details and State of Development:

- Proof-of-principle for a number of applications
- Large numbers of combinations for NADES have been characterized
- Extraction and solubility of flower colors, flavonoids and phenolic compounds have been tested


1. Novel formulations for drug delivery, cosmetics and nutritionals
2. Extraction of new compounds from natural sources
3. Protein or biopharmaceutical stabilization
4. Chemical industry, ionic liquids, cellulose processing and more


Large numbers or combinations for NADES have been characterized. Additionally, extraction and solubility of flower colors, flavonoids and phenolic compounds have been tested.

Keywords: compound extraction, compound solubilization, natural products, drug delivery, biopharmaceuticals

Key benefits

  • High solubility of natural products and low volatility
  • Safe to use, cheap to make
  • Extracts made with NADES are non-toxic and can be applied safely in e.g. (bio)pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and nutritional supplements

Luris reference number


Patent status

Patent applications were filed in EU, US, JP, AU, BR, CA, NL.

Data available on request

Patent status, scientific data.