Static head is a steady state of a system with an input process coupled to an output process (coupled system), in which the output force is maximized at constant input or driving force up to a level at which the conjugated output flow is reduced to zero. In an incompletely coupled system, energy must be expended to maintain static head, even though the output is zero (Caplan and Essig 1983; referring to output flow at maximum output force). LEAK respiration is a measure of input flow at static head, when the output flow of phosphorylation (ADP->ATP) is zero at maximum phosphorylation potential (Gibbs force of phosphorylation; Gnaiger 1993a).
In a completely coupled system, not only the output flux but also the input flux are zero at static head, which then is a state of ergodynamic equilibrium (Gnaiger 1993b). Whereas the output force is maximum at ergodynamic equilibrium compensating for any given input force, all forces are zero at thermodynamic equilibrium. Flows are zero at both types of equilibria, hence entropy production or power (power = flow x force) are zero in both cases, i.e. at thermodynamic equilibrium in general, and at ergodynamic equilibrium of a completely coupled system at static head.
Communicated by Gnaiger E 2011-02-27, edited 2014-04-20.
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