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C EE 255B Prof M K Stenstrom Winter 2010 BALANCING REDOX EQUATIONS Balancing redox oxidation reduction equations is a simple and very useful technique of performing balances from empirical equations describing microbial stoichiometry Each basic equation synthesis or growth respiration and decay can all be balanced and added together to describe a process Moreover the equations can be balanced for each type of metabolism aerobic or oxic anoxic and anaerobic This handout describes the techniques for balancing the equations and then shows some common examples Be careful when using empirical redox techniques the reactions can be balanced but other information must be used to determine if the reaction actually occurs RULES Each redox equation contains two parts the oxidation and reduction parts Each is balanced separately 1 The first rule is to balance the major atoms with known end products The end products of the redox equations must be stated or determined from other sources The redox equations give you no information about the actual end products Common end products for carbon are CO2 or cells Other end products can occur as well Major atoms are defined as all atoms except oxygen and hydrogen 2 The next step is to balance the oxygen atoms by adding water H2O molecules 3 Next balance the hydrogen with hydrogen ions H 4 Finally balance the charge with electrons e After these four steps one obtains a balanced half reaction either the oxidation reaction or the reduction reaction Oxidation reactions will produce electrons electrons appear on the right hand side of the equation Reduction reactions will consume electrons electrons appear on the left hand side of the equation SOME EXAMPLES Consider the oxidation of glucose C6H12O6 Step 1 Balance the major atoms In this case we will use CO2 as the end product for carbon C6H12O6 6 CO2 Step 2 Balance the oxygen with water C6H12O6 6 H2O 6 CO2 Step 3 Balance the hydrogen C6H12O6 6 H2O Step 4 Balance the charge with electrons 6



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