I have been through the process of aerobic respiration a few times in different text books and almost every book quotes a different value for the number of ATP molecules produced. The consensus seems to be 30–32, but why is there disagreement and why aren’t the numbers exact?
The possible reasons I can think of are:
Phosphorylation of ADP is not directly coupled to redox reactions.
The number of ATP molecules produced depends on the shuttle used to transport electrons from the NADH in the cytosol to the mitochondria, i.e. whether it’s FADH2 which enters the ETC or NADH. (I have a silly question on that, but I need confirmation, does the electron carrier chosen depend on availability?)
The proton-motive force can be used to drive other cellular processes other than the production of ADP? (I'm guessing.)
Are these suggestions correct, or is there some other explanation?