What Is the Maximum Efficiency of Aerobic Respiration?

The maximum efficiency for aerobic respiration is 39 percent, according to Michael Muller at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This is calculated as the maximum number of ATP molecules produced through aerobic respiration, in perfect conditions, is 36.

Aerobic respiration can be simplified as a process that uses dioxygen (two molecules of oxygen) in a series of chemical reactions that release energy, states Michael Muller. Aerobic respiration consists of glycolysis, pyruvate conversion to acetyl CoA, the Krebs cycle, and the electron transport phosphorylation. This entire process would theoretically produce 36 ATP molecules in perfect conditions.

The maximum efficiency is calculated by the kcal/mol of ATP (7.5) multiplied by the number of ATP (36), and then the product is divided by the kcal/mol of glucose (686), states Muller. So 7.5 kcal/mol ATP times 36 ATP equals 270 kcal for all ATP, and 270 kcal divided by 686 kcal/mol glucose equals 0.39, which is 39 percent.