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Modern Thermodynamics for Chemists and Biochemists$
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Dennis Sherwood and Paul Dalby

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198782957

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198782957.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 October 2021

The biochemical standard state

The biochemical standard state

(p.673) 23 The biochemical standard state
Modern Thermodynamics for Chemists and Biochemists

Dennis Sherwood

Paul Dalby

Oxford University Press

Applying thermodynamics to biological systems requires the use of the biochemical standard state. Many texts do not mention the biochemical standard state, and most of those that do dismiss it in three sentences: ‘The equilibrium constant K refers to pH 0. For biological systems, that’s not convenient, and so the biochemical standard state is defined as pH 7. K then becomes K ′. When K ′ replaces K in all the equations, everything works’. This is most unsatisfactory: it is not obvious why K is linked to pH 0, and replacing K by K ′ seems to be a typographical trick. This chapter therefore explains clearly why K relates to pH 0, why this is important, how K ′ relates to the biologically more relevant pH 7, how the biochemical standard is defined and used, and how equations based on conventional standards can be transformed to the biochemical standard.

Keywords:   thermodynamics, biochemistry, living systems, standard state, conventional standard state, biochemical standard state, biochemical reactions at pH 7, conversion between standards, Nernst equation

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