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Alcoholic Fermentation is one of two anaerobic processes that can be used by a cell to create energy in the absense of oxygen. During alcoholic fermentation, the cell creates pyruvate through two steps.

The first stage of this reaction is glycolysis, which is the one stage of cellular respiration that is common to all living organisms. During glycolysis the molecule glucose is broken into two molecules of pyruvate. This molecule looks something like this:

O-
+
C=O
+
C=O
+
CH3

After glycoysis has been completed, the net products of the reactants are two molecules of pyruvate, two molecules of ATP and two molecules of NADH.

After glycoysis comes the step of alcoholic fermenation, in which the two molecules of pyruvate are oxidized which produces two molecules of CO2. When the pyruvate has released the carbon dioxide, the two new molecules that are left are duplicate Acetaldehides, an aldehyde that looks something like this:

H
+
C=O
+
CH3

The two molecules of Acetaldehyde are then oxidized to produces two molecules of NAD+ and two molecules of ethanol:

H
+
H-C-OH
+
CH3

So, now to recap. Glucose goes through glycolysis where it is reduced to produce two molecules of ATP, two molecules of NADH, and two molecules of pyruvate. Then, during alcoholic fermentation, the two pyruvate are stripped of one molecule of carbon dioxide each to produce two molecules of Acetaldehyde. The Acetaldehyde are then oxidized to produce two molecules of NAD+ and two molecules of Ethanol Alcohol.

Net Gain= 2 Molecules of ATP

Primary Source: Biology, Sixth Edition by Campbell and Reece

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