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This paper is devoted to the investigation of polymerization fronts converting a liquid monomer into a liquid polymer. We assume that the monomer and the polymer are immiscible and study the influence of the interfacial tension on the front stability. The mathematical model consists of the reaction-diffusion equations coupled with the Navier-Stokes equations through the convection terms. The jump conditions at the interface take into account the interfacial tension. Simple physical arguments show that the same temperature distribution could not lead to Marangoni instability for a nonreacting system. We fulfill a linear stability analysis and show that interaction of the chemical reaction and of the interfacial tension can lead to an instability that has another mechanism: the heat produced by the reaction decreases the interfacial tension and initiates the liquid motion. It brings more monomer to the reaction zone and increases even more the heat production. This feedback mechanism can lead to the instability if the frontal Marangoni number exceeds a critical value. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.

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