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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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The biochemical standard state

The biochemical standard state

Chapter:
(p.673) 23 The biochemical standard state
Source:
Modern Thermodynamics for Chemists and Biochemists
Author(s):

Dennis Sherwood

Paul Dalby

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198782957.003.0023

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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