ATP, the Molecule That Stores Energy

Note: This Post Contains 3 Comics!
ATP is the molecule that stores energy for a cell.  If you are curious about where this energy came from, it comes from cellular respiration (< click for more info if you are curious to find out more).  When ATP‘s energy is “used up” by the cell, it becomes ADP.  Therefore, you can view ATP as a “fully-charged” battery, while ADP is a “depleted” battery.

20170625 ATP 1b
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20170625 ATP 2b
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ATP stands for “adenosine triphosphate”, the word “triphosophate” means that it contains 3 phosphates ions.  Among the 3 phosphate ions, the 3rd phosophate is the most important because it is where energy is stored.

ADP, on the other hand, stands for “adenosine biphosphate”, which means that it only has 2 phosphate ions.  Because it does not have the 3rd phosphate ion, ADP contains very little energy.  This is why you treat ADP as the “energy-depleted” battery but view ATP as the “fully-charged” battery.

20170625 ATP 3 Respiration
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Next Generation Science Standards:

MS-LS1-3.  Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.

MS-LS1-7.  Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an organism.

HS-LS1-2. Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

HS-LS1-3.  Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis.

HS-LS1-6.  Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules.

HS-LS1-7.  Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy.

HS-LS2-3.  Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

HS-LS2-5.  Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.

What Science Does this Comic Teach?

Unit: Cell Biology

⇒Chapter: Respiration

⇒Topic: ATP, the Molecule That Stores Energy

Additional Information


Ions are atoms or molecules which contain an electrical charge (could be + or -).  Ions are often used to make up a larger molecule or scattered throughout a liquid.


These are a special type of organelles responsible for using glucose to generate energy for the cell.  For more information, see this comic post (will open a new tab): Mitochondria Definition


Lungs are a pair of organs that engaging in respiration (typically called “breathing”).  You can find more information on the importance of lungs in this post on the lungs’ importance:  If you want to know what the lungs are made of, view this post:

Cellular Respiration

Cellular respiration is the process that supplies the cells (as well as a large organism like a human) with the energy necessary for survival.  We eat food and breathe air for the very purpose of gathering the necessary materials to keep cellular respiration going nonstop.  The process of cellular respiration is carried out by cells’ mitochondria.


They are the “ingredients” of a chemical reaction.  In a chemical reaction, reactants are used to produce “products”, which are the end results of a reaction.


Glucose is the simplest form of sugar and contains a lot of energy–think of the phrase “sugar-rush”.  Because it is “simple”, it can be easily absorbed into an organism’s body/cells to provide the organism with energy.



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