We study the linear stability of a two-phase heat pipe zone (vapor-liquid counterflow) in a porous medium, overlying a superheated vapor zone. The competing effects of gravity, condensation and heat transfer on the stability of a planar base state are analyzed in the linear stability limit. The rate of growth of unstable disturbances is expressed in terms of the wave number of the disturbance, and dimensionless numbers, such as the Rayleigh number, a dimensionless heat flux and other parameters. A critical Rayleigh number is identified and shown to be different than in natural convection under single phase conditions. The results find applications to geothermal systems, to enhanced oil recovery using steam injection, as well as to the conditions of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. This study complements recent work of the stability of boiling by Ramesh and Torrance (1993).

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