What Happens to the Energy Released During Cellular Respiration?

Carl Rod Nave of Georgia State University explains that biologists consider ATP, short for adenosine triphosphate, to be the energy currency of life. An ATP molecule stores energy that organisms require to perform vital functions and processes. During cellular respiration, ADP converts into ATP storage molecules which supply energy.

An ATP molecule consists of a carbon backbone with a phosphorous part, called the triphosphate. According to Nave, the three phosphorous groups of the triphosphate are interconnected and surrounded by oxygen molecules. Oxygen that carries a negative charge creates an unstable environment. By breaking a bond and removing one phosphate group, the entire molecule becomes more stable. This process facilitates the conversion of ATP back to ADP. The breaking of the bond releases the energy needed for life processes. The spent ADP molecules then recharge into ATP via glucose oxidation during cellular respiration.