A linear stability analysis is performed for a horizontal Darcy porous layer of depth 2dm sandwiched between two fluid layers of depth d (each) with the top and bottom boundaries being dynamically free and kept at fixed temperatures. The Beavers–Joseph condition is employed as one of the interfacial boundary conditions between the fluid and the porous layer. The critical Rayleigh number and the horizontal wave number for the onset of convective motion depend on the following four nondimensional parameters: dˆ ( = dm/d, the depth ratio), δ ( = K/dm with K being the permeability of the porous medium), α (the proportionality constant in the Beavers–Joseph condition), and k/km (the thermal conductivity ratio). In order to analyze the effect of these parameters on the stability condition, a set of numerical solutions is obtained in terms of a convergent series for the respective layers, for the case in which the thickness of the porous layer is much greater than that of the fluid layer. A comparison of this study with the previously obtained exact solution for the case of constant heat flux boundaries is made to illustrate quantitative effects of the interfacial and the top/bottom boundaries on the thermal instability of a combined system of porous and fluid layers.

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