Olympian Carbon Footprint

Chemistry Level 3

In the recently completed Olympic Games in Rio, the winning time in the women's marathon was 2 hours, 24 minutes and 4 seconds. (For the sake of this problem, 4 seconds has been subtracted from the real record.) Suppose the winning runner consumed 2.8 liters of \(\ce{O2}\) per minute (average) during the race (2.8 liters/min at standard temperature and pressure). Assume also that 100 percent of her energy was supplied by the oxidation of glucose.

\[ \ce{C6H_{12}O6 + O2 -> CO2 + H2O} \]

Estimate her carbon footprint (in moles) for this race in moles of \(\ce{CO2}\).

Details and assumptions:

  • Metabolism is much more complex than this, with glycolysis, Krebs cycle and electron transport chain plus additional energy from the oxidation of fatty acids, but just assume simple oxidation of glucose gives your estimate.

  • You are given oxygen consumption, not inspired or expired air volume, which would be much greater.

  • Oxygen consumption is stated relative to STP conditions.


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