Cellular respiration is the process in which the chemical bonds of energy-rich molecules such as glucose are converted into energy usable for life processes. Oxidation of organic material-in a bonfire, for example-is an exothermic reaction that releases a large amount of energy rather quickly. The equation for the oxidation of glucose is:
C6H12O6 + 6O2 --> 6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy released (2830kJ mol-1)
In a fire there is a massive uncontrolled release of energy as light and heat. Cellular respiration is the same process but it occurs in gradual steps that result in the conversion of the energy stored in glucose to usable chemical energy in the form of ATP. Waste products (CO2 + 6H2O) are released through exhaled air, sweat and urine.
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