Thermodynamics of Energy Conversion in the Cell
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The aim of every evolved and adapted biological system should consist in extracting the quality of energy to do work, i.e. the exergy , from the available foodstuff in possibly the most efficient manner. This work may consist in muscular contraction, ion transport across a membrane, synthesis and assembly of the building blocks of the organism, etc. Common to all these processes is that they are driven by the energy-rich ATP. The most important source of ATP is oxidative phosphorylation which is localized within the mitochondria. In this process the exergy liberated from the combustion of reducing equivalents is converted into the formation of ATP. Therefore, oxidative phosphorylation can be considered as an exergetic energy converter. The aim of this paper is to give insight into some mechanisms by which the cell can optimize the exergetic efficiency of oxidative phosphorylation.
KeywordsOxidative Phosphorylation Optimal Efficiency Energy Converter Force Ratio Nonequilibrium Thermodynamic
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