Insights for the valorization of biomass from Portuguese invasive Acacia spp. in a biorefinery perspective.
Acacia spp. are widespread all over the Portuguese territory, representing a threat to local biodiversity and to the productivity of the forest sector. The measures adopted in some countries for their eradication or to control their propagation are expensive, have been considered unfeasible from practical and economical perspectives, and have generated large amounts of residue that must be valorized in a sustainable way. This review brings together information on the valorization of bark, wood, leaves, flowers, pods, seeds, roots, and exudates from Acacia spp., through the production of high-value bioactive extracts (e.g., antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antiviral, anthelmintic, or pesticidal agents, suitable to be explored by pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetics, and food and feed industries), its incorporation in innovative materials (e.g., polymers and composites, nanomaterials, low-cost adsorbents), as well as through the application of advanced thermochemical processes (e.g., flash pyrolysis) and pre-treatments to decompose biomass in its structural components, regarding the production of biofuels along with valuable chemicals derived from cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. The knowledge of this research is important to encourage an efficient and sustainable valorization of Acacia spp. within a biorefinery concept, which can bring a significant economic return from the valorization of these residues, simultaneously contributing to forest cleaning and management, to reduce the risk of fires, and to improve the social-economic development of rural areas.