The effect of convection on a propagating front with a liquid product: Comparison of theory and experiments

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This work is devoted to the investigation of propagating polymerization fronts converting a liquid monomer into a liquid polymer. We consider a simplified mathematical model which consists of the heat equation and equation for the depth of conversion for one-step chemical reaction and of the Navier-Stokes equations under the Boussinesq approximation. We fulfill the linear stability analysis of the stationary propagating front and find conditions of convective and thermal instabilities. We show that convection can occur not only for ascending fronts but also for descending fronts. Though in the latter case the exothermic chemical reaction heats the cold monomer from above, the instability appears and can be explained by the interaction of chemical reaction with hydrodynamics. Hydrodynamics changes also conditions of the thermal instability. The front propagating upwards becomes less stable than without convection, the front propagating downwards more stable. The theoretical results are compared with experiments. The experimentally measured stability boundary for polymerization of benzyl acrylate in dimethyl formamide is well approximated by the theoretical stability boundary. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.

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