Most theories of open ionic channels ignore heat generated by current flow, but that heat is known to be significant when analogous currents flow in semiconductors, so a generalization of the Poisson-Nernst-Planck theory of channels, called the hydrodynamic model, is needed. The hydrodynamic theory is a combination of the Poisson and Euler field equations of electrostatics and fluid dynamics, conservation laws that describe diffusive and convective flow of mass, heat, and charge (i.e., current), and their coupling. That is to say, it is a kinetic theory of solute and solvent flow, allowing heat and current flow as well, taking into account density changes, temperature changes, and electrical potential gradients. We integrate the equations with an essentially nonoscillatory shock-capturing numerical scheme previously shown to be stable and accurate. Our calculations show that 1) a significant amount of electrical energy is exchanged with the permeating ions; 2) the local temperature of the ions rises some tens of degrees, and this temperature rise significantly alters for ionic flux in a channel 25 A long, such as gramicidin-A; and 3) a critical parameter, called the saturation velocity, determines whether ionic motion is overdamped (Poisson-Nernst-Planck theory), is an intermediate regime (called the adiabatic approximation in semiconductor theory), or is altogether unrestricted (requiring the full hydrodynamic model). It seems that significant temperature changes are likely to accompany current flow in the open ionic channel.
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