School of Chemical Engineering

Professor Suresh Bhatia

Office: 74-337
Phone: +61 7 3365 4263

Suresh Bhatia received a B.Tech. degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and Master’s as well as PhD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He worked for a few years in industry in the USA, and for two years at the University of Florida, before joining the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, in 1984, and subsequently The University of Queensland in 1996. His main research interests are in adsorption and transport in nanoporous materials and in heterogeneous reaction engineering, where he has authored over two hundred and ten scientific papers in leading international journals. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Engineering Sciences from the Government of India, and the ExxonMobil Award for excellence from the Institution of Chemical Engineers. Since January 2010 he holds an Australian Professorial Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. He is a Fellow of two major academies – the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and the Indian Academy of Sciences ‑and of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. He is the Regional Editor of the international journal Molecular Simulation. He has held visiting positions at leading universities, and between 2007 and 2009 he was the Head of the Division of Chemical Engineering at UQ.


Bhatia’s current research centers around three principal themes. One of these is on transport in nanopores and nanoporous materials, where he is developing practical models of transport in nanoporous materials in conjunction with simulation and experiment. Among the recent achievements is a new theory of diffusion in nanoscale pores, which supersedes the century long Knudsen model, and which has been extended to disordered materials. A current focus of the research is the description of fluid-solid friction and of fluid phase shear stress at the nanoscale, for which existing theories based on bulk phase behavior are inadequate. The results will have importance for the modelling of transport in nanomaterials and membrane-based separations.

In another stream of activity he is developing atomistic models of disordered carbons using hybrid reverse Monte Carlo simulation methods, in conjunction with neutron scattering experiments. These atomistic models are then used to investigate the adsorption and transport of adsorbed fluids in the carbon nanostructure for a variety of applications. Among the carbons being examined are carbide-derived carbon based adsorbents for carbon dioxide capture from moist gases and CH4/CO2 separations. The co-adsorption of water has critical influence in these applications, and strategies for mitigating this influence are being experimentally investigated. This is supported by molecular dynamics simulations which are being used to achieve new understanding of the adsorption and transport of water in disordered carbons and carbon nanotubes.

A third area of recent activity is the study of carbon supercapacitors, where he is developing advanced simulation-based models for the equilibrium and flow of ions in porous carbon electrodes. These models will enable the optimisation of carbon structure for maximising capacitance, and enhancing charging/discharging rates. 

Teaching and Learning: 

Bhatia has teaching interests in chemical reaction engineering, and applied mathematics, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

  1. Dynamics of mixture adsorption in nanoporous materials. This project focuses on understanding the diffusion of gases in nanoporous materials, which is challenging both from a fundamental and applications viewpoint.  In this connection we have already performed molecular dynamics studies with single component systems, and developed a novel new theory of diffusion and transport of adsorbates in such materials.  The new studies now proposed focus on binary systems, and the new theory developed will be extended to multicomponent systems in conjunction with molecular dynamics simulation and experiments.
  2. Synthesis and modelling of mixed matrix membranes. Mixed matrix membranes comprising a zeolite or other suitable adsorbent dispersed within and polymer matrix are attracting considerable attention because they combine the good mechanical properties of the polymer matrix with separation properties of the adsorbent. Here, we will synthesis suitable mixed matrix membranes for CO2/CH4 and H2/CO2 separation, and investigate their transport properties in this application. Mathematical model of the diffusion through the membrane will be developed and validated against experimental data.
  3. Modelling of electrochemical supercapacitors. Nanoporous carbons have important uses in electrolytic supercapacitors; however the understanding of their behaviour in this application is still not well developed and process models are very primitive. This project will investigate electrolyte behaviour in disordered carbons using molecular simulations as well as experiments, and develop strategies for optimising supercapacitor behaviour.
  4. Tailoring or carbide derived carbons for CO2 capture. Carbide derived carbons are a novel class of nanoporous carbons, synthesised by chlorination of a metal carbide, and are considered useful in gas storage and separation. Here we will explore novel strategies for tailoring their structure for CO2 capture from flue gas. The project will combine experiments and modelling of the adsorption.
  5. Atomistic modelling of disordered carbon structure. Nanoporous carbons in industrial use are inherently disordered, and have a complex structure. While idealized slit pore models can often be adequate in predicting their adsorption properties, and are commonly used, successful prediction of fluid transport in such carbons requires more detailed representation of the structural complexity. In this project we will use reverse Monte Carlo simulation methods to determine the structure at an atomistic level, and utilize this structure as a platform to predict adsorption and transport properties. This will enable better prediction of process behavior, and improved process design and optimization of separation and storage processes using such carbons.
  6. Separation of light isotopes using quantum molecular sieving. We have demonstrated both theoretically and experimentally, that at low temperatures heavier isotopes can diffuse faster than lighter ones in nanoporous materials due to quantum effects. This suggests the possibility of molecular sieving of isotopes at low temperature. Here we shall investigate this novel behaviour theoretically for He3/He4 separation using nanoporous graphene membranes. The project will utilise Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations in investigating the adsorption and transport of these isotopes and their mixtures.
Key Publications: 
  1. Bae, J.-S., T.X. Nguyen and S.K. Bhatia, “Pore Accessibility of Ti3SiC2-Derived Carbons”, Carbon, 68, 531-541 (2014).
  2. Bhatia, S.K. and D. Nicholson, “Friction between Solids and Adsorbed Fluids is Spatially Distributed at the Nanoscale”, Langmuir, 29, 14519-14526 (2013).
  3. Farmahini, A.H., G. Opletal and S.K. Bhatia, “Structural Modelling of Silicon Carbide-Derived Nanoporous Carbon by Hybrid Reverse Monte Carlo Simulation”, J. Phys. Chem. C, 117, 14081−14094 (2013).
  4. Gao, X., M.R. Bonilla, J.C. Diniz da Costa and S.K. Bhatia, “The Transport of Gases in a Mesoporous γ-Alumina Supported Membrane”, J. Memb. Sci., 428, 357-370 (2013).
  5. Nguyen, T.X. and S.K. Bhatia, “Some Anomalies in the Self-Diffusion of Water in Disordered Carbons”, J. Phys. Chem. C, 116, 3667-3676 (2012).
  6. Bhatia, S.K. and T.X. Nguyen, “Potential of Silicon Carbide Derived Carbon for Carbon Capture”, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 50, 10380-10383 (2011).
  7. Nguyen T.X. and S.K. Bhatia, “How Water Adsorbs in Hydrophobic Nanospaces”, J. Phys. Chem., 115, 16606-16612 (2011).
  8. Bhatia, S.K and D. Nicholson, "Some Pitfalls in the use of the Knudsen Equation in Modelling Diffusion in Nanoporous Materials”, Chem. Eng. Sci. 66, 284-293 (2011).
  9. Nguyen, T.X., H. Jobic and S.K. Bhatia, “Microscopic Observation of Kinetic Molecular Sieving of Hydrogen Isotopes in a Nanoporous Material”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 085901 (2010).
  10. Bonilla, M.R., T.X. Nguyen, J.-S. Bae and S.K. Bhatia, “Heat Treatment-Induced Structural Changes in SiC-Derived Carbons and their Impact on Gas Storage Potential”, J. Phys. Chem C, 114, 16562-16575 (2010).
  11. Bhatia, S.K., and D. Nicholson, "Modeling Mixture Transport in Nanopores: Departure from Existing Paradigms”, Phys. Rev. Lett., 100, 236103 (2008).
  12. Anil Kumar, A.V., H. Jobic and S.K. Bhatia, “Quantum Effects on Adsorption and Diffusion of Hydrogen and Deuterium in Microporous Materials”, J. Phys. Chem B., 110, 16666-16671 (2006).
  13. Bhatia, S.K. and A.L Myers, “Optimal Conditions for Adsorptive Storage”, Langmuir, 22; 1688-1700 (2006).
  14. Anil Kumar, A.V. and S.K. Bhatia, “Quantum Effect Induced Reverse Kinetic Molecular Sieving in Microporous Materials”, Phys. Rev. Lett., 95, 245901 (2005).