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The Cell Membrane is a battery

The Cell Battery

The Cell Membrane acts like a Battery

The electrical charge difference or voltage across the membrane of a human cell is called the “Transmembrane Potential Difference”or more familiarly, the Cell “Battery”Voltage -the charge difference is determined by a vital imbalance of mineral ions, such as K+, Na+, Ca++ and H+, separated on either side of the membrane.

The cell “battery”provides the “driving-force”

for active transport of ingredients across the cell membrane

The imbalance of ions across the cell membrane is maintained by powered membrane transport pumps(gated protein channels)that move ions across the semi-permeable membrane in the opposite direction to their concentration gradient - ions can move without help from a higher concentration to a lower concentration (i.e. by diffusion), but need a “push”to move against their concentration gradient. Most ion channels are “gated”, meaning they must be stimulated to open or close by electrical (and sometimes mechanical or chemical) mechanisms.

–    Important membrane pumps (actually enzymes) include:

✔ Sodium Potassium (Na/K) Pump- technically Na+/K+-ATPase

✔ Bicarbonate Pump-technically HCO3 –ATPase

✔ Calcium (Ca) pump-technically Ca2+-ATPase

For more information on how substances cross the cell membrane:

The Human Cell 101

It is mainly the Na/K pumps(Sodium-Potassium Adenosine Triphosphatase)that keep the Cell “Battery”charged - cells maintain a transmembrane potential difference across their cell membranes by keeping a specific balance of potassium ions (K+) inside and sodium ions (Na+) outside their cells. This is accomplished by using membrane Na/Kpumps to pump Na+ ions out of the cell and K+ ions into the cell against their concentration gradients (i.e. the opposite of diffusion). This maintains a low sodium / high potassium ion concentration inside the cell.

For those quirky people, who would like to see more detail about how the resting potential difference is established, see:

The Cell “Battery”Resting potential

The Na/K pumps are opened or closed by a change in the cell “battery”voltage - stimulated by the transmembrane potential, the opening of the Na/K pumpsgenerates an inward current that affects the membrane potential itself (creating a reinforcing positive loop).

The cell “battery”voltage must be maintained at a healthy level to enable delivery(via secondary active transpoprters)of “outside”supplies (glucose, amino acids and other nutrients)for mitochondrial ATPenergy production and for the cell to function- ~30% of the ATP energy produced by the cell mitochondria is used to power the membrane pumps.

Cellular Respiration

The cell “Battery”voltage affects All Electrical activity of the cell – the membrane resting potential preparesthe “excitable”nerve and muscle cells for the propagation of action potentials leading to nerve impulses and muscle contraction. E.g. the heart muscle cells (myocardial cells) require a sufficient membrane potential for the heart to beat; pain messages are passed via nerve impulses.

Healthy vs. Sick Cell Membrane “Battery”Voltage Level

A healthy cell maintains a measurable resting “battery”voltage of about 60 - 90 millivolts (mV) - depending upon the cell type, with the outer membrane being more positive than the inner membrane.

In contrast, when a cell is poisoned, injured or nutrient-deprived, the cell “battery”voltage falls to a level as low as 40 mV - at this level the sodium / potassium pumps will malfunction, cellular energy production will stop, and the cell will either struggle to heal itself or die. In the case of a cancerous cell, the survival mechanism has “kicked in”, enabling it only to multiply, but no longer perform its assigned task.

Cell “battery”voltage falls with age - “Due to the stresses of life, malnutrition and a toxic, unnatural environment, the human cell “loses”approximately 10% of its original cell “battery”voltage every 24 years, diminishing roughly according to the following chart:



24 yrs

48 yrs

72 yrs

96 yrs

Percentage of Original Cell “Battery Voltage”






Fortunately, there are methods available to us,

which will recharge our depleted cell “batteries”

Beneficial Energy Charges the Cell Battery



Related Links





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The Cell Battery

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- “Resting Potential”

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