Researcher biography


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 seventy 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. He served the Regional Editor of the international journal Molecular Simulation between 2009 and 2015. 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. Simulation of kinetics of drug delivery using Nanoparticles. The delivery of drugs to diseased sites in the body is an area of considerable interest for human health, and the use of nanoparticles as drug carriers is an attractive option that is receiving considerable attention. Nanoparticles of metal organic framework (MOF) materials have much potential because of the large porosity and surface areas as well as biocompatibility of such materials, which enables high loading of a large variety of molecules, together with their gradual release. In this project, we will investigate the transport of targeted anti-cancer molecules in a variety of MOFs at nanoscale particle sizes using molecular dynamics simulations, in order to understand the effects of nanoparticle size and pore topology on the kinetics of drug delivery. Coating of the nanoparticles with a suitable biocompatible polymer to achieve controlled release will also be examined through simulation.
  2. Simulation of kinetics of transdermal drug delivery. In the last two decades drug delivery through the skin by means of a transdermal patch has become an important alternative to the conventional oral route, as it avoids the metabolism in the liver as well as irritation of the gastro-intestinal tract. Transdermal drug delivery can provide controlled release rates that lead to a constant concentration of the drug in the circulatory system. However, a major drawback is the low skin permeability of many drugs, which inhibits wide use of this method. Good understanding of the transport through the skin, and prediction of permeabilty is therefore crucial to use of this method. In this project we will model dug diffusion through the stratum corneum, the outermost barrier layer of the skin, which controls the rate of drug delivery. This layer comprises dead cells called corneocytes and lipid bilayers organised in a brick and mortar structure. Molecular dynamics simulations will be used to investigate the transport of targeted drugs and molecules used as enhancers in the lipid bilayer, and determine transport coefficients in this bilayer. The results will be combined with models of diffusion through the corneocytes in a multiscale model, to predict the drug permeability in the stratum corneum in the presence of the enhancer.
  3. Simulation of transport through nanocomposites. Nanocomposites and 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 investigate their transport properties by means of molecular dynamics simulations of permeation through the polymer and filler, and use the results in multiscale simulations of the permeation through the dispersion as a whole. Mathematical models of the diffusion through the composite will also be developed and validated against simulation.
  4. 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.
  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 behaviour, and improved process design and optimization of separation and storage processes using such carbons.