Methods and compositions are provided for synthesizing ionic liquids from lignin derived compounds comprising: contacting a starting material comprising lignin with a depolymerization agent to depolymerize the lignin and form a mixture of aldehyde containing compounds; contacting the mixture of aldehyde containing compounds with an amine under conditions suitable to convert the mixture of aldehyde containing compounds to a mixture of amine containing compounds; and contacting the mixture of amine containing compounds with an acid under conditions suitable to form an ammonium salt, thereby preparing the ionic liquid.
STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
 The invention described and claimed herein was made utilizing funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. The government has certain rights in this invention.