Natural Products: Green solvents made from mixtures of cellular metabolites coax pigments from safflowers.
A new class of cheap, nontoxic solvents made from cellular soups can extract compounds from plants for use in foods, cosmetics, or pharmaceuticals, according to a new study (Anal. Chem. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/ac400432p). The solvents could offer an environmentally friendly way to isolate the plant compounds without the need for toxic organic solvents.
Young Hae Choi, a natural products chemist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his coworkers discovered these new solvents while studying metabolites found in cells. The researchers realized that some mixtures of metabolites possessed the characteristics of good solvents, such as having the ability to form hydrogen bonds, no reactivity with water, low vapor pressures, and low melting points.