30 March, 2023
Lamya Alfuhaid, a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Professor Geert-Jan Witkamp, received the first-place award at the KROW Day 1 Poster Session, themed: Sustainable Environment and Supply of Essential Needs. "My poster entitled Tackling National Priorities with Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents showcased the diverse applications of natural deep eutectic solvents we are currently developing, which can significantly impact the future of the water, biomedical, food, and pharmaceutical industries in the country," she explained. Alfuhaid's poster was chosen from among the 25 participants.
Green solvents are a crucial research topic nowadays; academics and industries recognize the need for alternatives to hazardous chemicals. Natural deep eutectic solvents (NADES) represent a new class of green solvents formed from food-grade, inexpensive materials such as sugars and amino acids. The components of NADES are abundantly present in plant and animal cells. Thus, studying NADES can contribute to understanding cellular metabolism, plant response to environmental stresses, and how multi-component osmolytes affect protein structure. NADES are involved in a wide range of applications, including the solubilization, stabilization, and extraction of biomolecules. For example, NADES substantially improved the solubility of rutin, a compound of a high pharmacological value.
Moreover, our previous work showed that NADES could dissolve the components of biofilms, providing a green solution for biofouling in reverse osmosis water desalination membranes. We also utilize the superior stabilization capacity of NADES for the long-term storage of highly unstable biomolecules, including RNA, at room temperature. The ability to stabilize RNA molecules facilitates RNA-related research and applications. Furthermore, NADES can be tailored for the selective extraction of high-value metabolites, such as carotenoids, contributing to the food and pharmaceutical industries. The versatility of NADES opens various doors toward sustainable development in the country.
Learn more about the KAUST Research Open Week (KROW).