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In biology, anaerobic respiration is a way for an organism to produce usable energy without the involvement of oxygen; it is respiration without oxygen.[1] Respiration is a redox reaction that processes energy in a form usable by an organism, chiefly the process of producing ATP,[2] the "universal energy currency of life".[3] It employs an electron transport chain, with inorganic molecules other than oxygen used as a final electron acceptor. Anaerobic respiration should therefore not be confused with fermentation, as in ethanol fermentation and lactic acid fermentation.

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Etymology

The term anaerobic comes from the Greek: "aer" means air and "bios" means life, while the prefix "an-" means without.

Examples of anaerobic respiration

glucose + 3NO3- + 3H2O \to 6HCO3- + 3NH4+, ΔG0' = -1796 kJ
glucose + 3SO42- + 3H+ \to 6HCO3- + 3SH-, ΔG0' = -453 kJ
glucose + 12S + 12H2O \to 6HCO3- + 12SH- + 18H+, ΔG0' = -333 kJ

These very important terminal electron acceptors (nitrate NO3-, sulfate SO42-, elemental sulfur S) have smaller reduction potentials than O2, meaning that less energy is released per oxidized molecule of primary electron donor in the above reactions) than in aerobic respiration (i.e. it is less energetically efficient).

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