Life’s energy currency, ATP

All living organisms, from bacteria, fungi, spinach and worms to crocodiles and humans, use ATP for energy conversion.

Originally, the energy comes from the sun.

Plants capture it during photosynthesis and convert it to chemical energy as ATP. Using this energy, plants produce carbohydrates, fats and proteins which are eaten by animals and human beings.

In metabolism, the food is broken down and the energy released is used to make ATP.

Energy is interconverted between various forms. Compare this with the idea of different currencies, only one of which is accepted at a time. ATP is an energy currency.

 

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is built up of adenosine and three phosphate groups. The removal of the terminal phosphate group from ATP produces adenosine diphosphate (ADP).

Every day an adult converts a quantity of ATP corresponding to at least half his or her body weight, and nearly a ton during a day of hard work.

To cite this section
MLA style: Life’s energy currency, ATP. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Tue. 11 Dec 2018. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1997/9175-lifes-energy-currency-atp/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.