In recent years, almost all extraction processes in the perfume, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, food ingredients, nutraceuticals, biofuel and fine chemical industries rely massively on solvents, the majority of which have petroleum origins. The intricate processing steps involved in the industrial extraction cycle makes it increasingly difficult to predict the overall environmental impact; despite the tremendous energy consumption and the substantial usage of solvents, often the yields are indicated in decimals. The ideal alternative solvents suitable for green extraction should have high solvency, high flash points with low toxicity and low environmental impacts, be easily biodegradable, obtained from renewable (non-petrochemical) resources at a reasonable price and should be easy to recycle without any deleterious effect to the environment. Finding the perfect solvent that meets all the aforementioned requirements is a challenging task, thus the decision for the optimum solvent will always be a compromise depending on the process, the plant and the target molecules. The objective of this comprehensive review is to furnish a vivid picture of current knowledge on alternative, green solvents used in laboratories and industries alike for the extraction of natural products focusing on original methods, innovation, protocols, and development of safe products.
Keywords: NADES; alternative solvents; bio-based solvent; compressed gas; green extraction; intensification; ionic liquids; solvent-free; supercritical solvent; water.