B.S. ​Mechanical Engineering, University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka, 1981M.S. ​Mechanical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, 1984Ph.D. ​Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, 1989

Professor Chelliah joined the University of Virginia in the Fall of 1992. He received his B.Sc. degree (First-Class Honors) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka in January 1981, MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from SUNY at Stony Brook in August 1984, and Ph.D. degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in January 1989. After completion of his Ph.D., he continued his research work at Princeton University as a Research Associate/Staff Member from 1988-1992.

Professor Chelliah is an active member of the Combustion Institute, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He is a Fellow of ASME, an Associate Fellow of AIAA and a member of the AIAA Technical Committee on Propellants and Combustion. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Combustion Theory and Modelling.


  • Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2004
  • Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, UK Fall 2015
  • Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge, UK Spring 2016
  • Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2018

Research Interests

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Chemical kinetics and model reduction
  • Combustion
  • Hypersonic propulsion
  • Soot nucleation, growth, and oxidation
  • Chemical vapor infiltration of SiC

In the News

Selected Publications

  • Sooting Limits of Non-premixed Counterflow Ethylene/Oxygen/Inert Flames using LII: Effects of Flow Strain Rate and Pressure (up to 30 atm) ABS BG Sarnacki, HK Chelliah, Combustion and Flame, 195 (2018), pp.267-281
  • On the Axisymmetric Counterflow Flame Simulations: Is there an Optimal Nozzle Diameter and Separation Distance to Apply Quasi One-Dimensional Theory? RF Johnson, AC VanDine, G Esposito, HK Chelliah, Combustion Science and Technology, 187 (2015), pp. 37-59
  • Skeletal reaction models based on principal component analysis: Application to ethylene–air ignition, propagation, and extinction phenomena G. Esposito, HK Chelliah, Combustion and Flame 158 (2011), pp. 477–489
  • Self-sustained Acoustic-Wave Interactions with Counterflow Flames AC Zambon, HK Chelliah, J. Fluid Mechanics, 560 (2006), pp. 249-278
  • Dynamics of Water Droplets in a Counterflow Field and Their Effect on Flame Extinction AM Lentati, HK Chelliah, Combustion and Flame, 115 (1998), pp.158-179
  • An experimental and theoretical investigation of the dilution, pressure and flow-field effects on the extinction condition of methane-air-nitrogen diffusion flames. Symposium (International) on Combustion, Elsevier. 1991 HK Chelliah, CK Law, T Ueda, MD Smooke, FA Williams, Proc. Combust. Inst., 23 (1991), pp. 503-511

Courses Taught

  • Thermodynamics
  • Thermal System Analysis
  • Rocket Propulsion
  • Thermo-mechanics
  • Non-equilibrium dynamics
  • Combustion

Featured Grants & Projects


    Understanding flow compressibility and heat release effects on turbulent combustion and assessment of subgrid scale models:

  • Rolls Royce

    Soot formation and oxidation in gas turbine engine conditions using a high-pressure counterflow flame reactor and tubular flow reactor.

  • Rolls Royce

    Understanding the coupling mechanisms between finite-rate chemistry and transport of silicon carbide synthesis and infiltration processes in a tubular flow reactor.