|Résumé :||The present work aims at studying the coupling between hydrodynamic fingering instabilities and chemical reactions at the interface between two miscible solutions. Hydrodynamic deformations of interfaces between two reactive fluids as well as flows induced by chemical reactions at the front between two initially steady fluids are encountered frequently in combustion, petroleum, chemical and pharmaceutical engineering. Most of the time, concrete applications imply a very large number of variables so that an understanding of the fundamental processes of chemo-hydrodynamic coupling is out of reach. Our goal is here to analyze a much simpler model system in which only one mechanism of hydrodynamic instability is at play and for which the chemical reactions can be modeled by a one or two-variable model.
Buoyantly unstable, autocatalytic chemical fronts, are one such model system, which can be used as prototype to study the effects of the coupling between chemical reactions and hydrodynamic fingering instabilities. Fingering processes occur whenever a fluid of high mobility displaces a less mobile one in a porous medium. The initially planar interface looses then stability and a cellular fingering deformation of the interface is observed. Such an instability has been observed, for instance, in the iodate-arsenous acid and chlorite-tetrathionate reactions, autocatalytic redox reactions known to produce a change of density across a traveling front. Fingering happens there when the heavier solution lies on top of the lighter one in the gravity field.
Our theoretical contribution to the analysis of fingering of chemical fronts focuses on different points which we detail in this thesis along the following outline. In chapter 2, we introduce fingering phenomena occurring in porous media and distinguish the situation of viscous and density fingering of pure non reactive fluids. Chapter 3 reviews the literature on coupling between fingering and chemical reactions before studying the linear stability conditions as well as nonlinear dynamics of density fingering of isothermal iodate-arsenous acid fronts. This prototype nonlinear redox reaction is the first one on which experimental results on fingering in spatially extended set-ups have been obtained. We next analyze in chapter 4 the density fingering of another front producing autocatalytic system i.e. the chlorite-tetrathionate reaction in order to address the influence of the chemical kinetics on the dynamics observed. The influence of the exothermicity of the reaction is then presented in chapter 5. Eventually, chapter 6 analyzes what happens if the kinetics is now bistable and further compares the situation of both viscous and density fingering of bistable fronts. We then conclude and present suggestions for future work in this subject at the frontier between nonlinear chemistry, hydrodynamics and engineering.