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How Cells Harvest Chemical Energy

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How Cells Harvest Chemical Energy


How Cells Harvest Chemical Energy

1. A cell must work just to maintain its complex structure, for order is intrinsically unstable. Because of entropy (the second law of thermodynamics), which states that any enclosed system tends toward disorganization, cells must constantly use energy to keep themselves in order. If the cell was to stop using energy and let itself go then it would eventually get so disorganized that it wouldn't function properly.
2. With the help of enzymes, the cell systematically degrades complex organic molecules that are rich in potential energy to simpler waste products that have less energy. An example of this is gasoline; before you burn gasoline in the cylinder, it has a lot of energy and high potential energy. But, when you burn the gasoline by the spark plug firing and igniting the gas, the leftover product has very low potential energy and is in a more unusable due to the fact that it is now carbon monoxide. The diagram on the next page illustrates this very well. The reactants are higher than the products indicating that they have a higher amount of potential energy. Then, after the reactants are used and you get to the products, there is less potential energy and you can see this because the ...

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