In chemical engineering applications, the operation of condensers and evaporators can be made more efficient by exploiting the transport properties of interfacial waves excited on the interface between a hot vapor overlying a colder liquid. Linear theory for the onset of instabilities due to heating a thin layer from above is computed for the Marangoni–Bénard problem. Symbolic computation in the long wave asymptotic limit shows three stationary, non-growing modes. Intersection of two decaying branches occurs at a crossover long wavelength; two other modes co-exist at the crossover point—propagating modes on nascent, shorter wavelength branches. The dispersion relation is then mapped numerically by Newton continuation methods. A neutral stability method is used to map the space of critical stability for a physically meaningful range of capillary, Prandtl, and Galileo numbers. The existence of a cut-off wavenumber for the long wave instability was verified. It was found that the effect of applying a no-slip lower boundary condition was to render all long waves stationary. This has the implication that any propagating modes, if they exist, must occur at finite wavelengths. The computation of 8000 different parameter sets shows that the group velocity always lies within
of the longwave phase velocity.
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