Thermally Driven Convection Generated by Reaction Fronts in Viscous Fluids

Pablo M. Vilela, Roberto Guzman, Desiderio A. Vasquez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reaction fronts propagating in liquids separate reacted from unreacted fluid. These reactions may release heat, increasing the temperature of the propagating medium. As fronts propagate, they will induce density changes leading to convection. Exothermic fronts that propagate upward increase the temperature of the reacted fluid located underneath the front. For positive expansion coefficients, the warmer fluid will tend to rise due to buoyancy. In the opposite case, for fronts propagating downward with the warmer fluid on top, an unexpected thermally driven instability can also take place. In this work, we carry out a linear stability analysis introducing perturbations of fixed wavelength. We obtain a dispersion relation between the perturbation wave number and its growth rate. For either direction of propagation, we find that the front is stable for very short wavelengths, but is unstable for large enough wavelengths. We carry out a numerical solution of a cubic reaction–diffusion–advection equation coupled to Navier–Stokes hydrodynamics in a two-dimensional rectangular domain. We find transitions between the non-axisymmetric and axisymmetric fronts increasing with the width of the domain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number269
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • chemical waves
  • convection
  • reaction fronts


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