The search for potential solvents for liquid extraction and extractive distillation is carried out through a group contribution molecular design of solvents (MOLDES) approach. A set of submolecular groups (UNIFAC) is used for the synthesis of molecular structures with desired solvent properties. Submolecular group combination (linking) properties are characterized to ensure the chemical feasibility of the MOLDES generated molecular structures. The size of the combinatorial problem posed by the molecular synthesis procedure is reduced by group selection and by imposing physical and molecular constraints at different stages. Criteria are developed for solvent evaluation and the reliability of the VLE and the LLE UNIFAC parameter tables for solvent screening are compared with experimental data for the recovery of oxychemicals by liquid extraction from dilute aqueous solutions.