Harnessing the Power of the Water-Gas Shift Reaction for Organic Synthesis

Andrea Ambrosi, Scott E. Denmark

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since its original discovery over a century ago, the water-gas shift reaction (WGSR) has played a crucial role in industrial chemistry, providing a source of H2to feed fundamental industrial transformations such as the Haber–Bosch synthesis of ammonia. Although the production of hydrogen remains nowadays the major application of the WGSR, the advent of homogeneous catalysis in the 1970s marked the beginning of a synergy between WGSR and organic chemistry. Thus, the reducing power provided by the CO/H2O couple has been exploited in the synthesis of fine chemicals; not only hydrogenation-type reactions, but also catalytic processes that require a reductive step for the turnover of the catalytic cycle. Despite the potential and unique features of the WGSR, its applications in organic synthesis remain largely underdeveloped. The topic will be critically reviewed herein, with the expectation that an increased awareness may stimulate new, creative work in the area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12164-12189
Number of pages26
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number40
StatePublished - Sep 26 2016


  • carbon monoxide
  • heterogeneous catalysis
  • homogeneous catalysis
  • reduction
  • transition metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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