The ultimate power system for ePropulsion

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CEO Roel ter Heide visited our WhisperPower Pacific partner John McGettigan in Auckland in October 2022. They spent some time on the Earthling E40, a 12-metre power catamaran which is rapidly proving to be the new gold standard in ePropulsion.

John has succeeded in building a stunning electrically propelled 40-foot motor catamaran using the very latest technology in this rapidly emerging market. His company has integrated the best available technologies in a simple supported solution that is targeting marine pleasure and light commercial applications up to 60 feet.

Roel John
Roel ter Heide & John McGettigan

Sailing without sails

What made John build this highly advanced e-cat? “Having previously sailed catamarans with noisy diesel drives I’ve always wanted to build a boat like this. During its development the concept of ‘sailing without sails’ was born out of a desire for silence and simplicity. I didn’t want to be dependent on diesels to run the boat, only as a backup. The Earthling E40 offers a peaceful experience at a gentle 10 to 12 knots. 

“Many yachts nowadays are high-powered with diesel or petrol inboard/outboard engines because owners are not interested in enjoying the passage – they simply want to get from A to B as fast as possible. Going fast isn’t fun in my opinion – the wind blows your hair all over the place, there’s lots of noise and you’re breathing in exhaust fumes. Pure sailing can also be a drama when you’re relying on the wind and I want to enjoy my time and company onboard without any hassle. The Earthling E40 is designed for just that, with my guests enjoying the space of the expansive flowing decks without ropes noise, smell or spray.”

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, John is confident about the future of ePropulsion.

“The available technology is getting better by the day, The 100 kW dual redundant system I’ve put together with the WhisperPower OctoPower-based systems and Molabo motors is the ‘new gold standard’ with worldwide support and a mindset of continuous improvement.”

John McGettigan, WhisperPower Pacific
Earthling System

Bright future

Smaller systems for sailing e-cats provide solutions capable of regenerating 3 to 6 kW of power when sailing. With high-power low-voltage DC systems (48 VDC) providing perfect power for the auxiliary comfort needs, Earthling will also work in this space. John explains how the design and specifications evolved.

“I worked with Alan Carwardine of Asia Catamarans, using his production 36-foot stealth design. We stretched to 40 feet, reduced rocker and accommodated the large slow-moving ePropulsion zero-cavitation system by Earthling. Alan also tweaked the hull form to provide a continuous smooth flow. It was easy to locate the components to give the best sailing attitude without any compromise. typically there would be two large outboards hanging on the transom. The Stealth design fitted well with simplicity, functionally the E-System well-hidden allowing amazing space”.

Earthling Water

Specifications of the Earthling

The lightweight 3.6-tonne hull is very easily pushed by the torque and design of the large Earthling ePropulsion. The engines are rated 50 kW p/side continuous, although only 30 kW is required to achieve high speeds. At only 3 KW (1.5 KW each) the boat sits at 5 Knots, solar roof supplies 2 KW. The sweet spot for passage making is 10 to 12 knots. With 20 kW consumption. 2 hours 24 nautical miles excluding solar and diesel backup. 

20 Knots and above is possible however energy consumption is exponential and this is not the design philosophy.

Earthling Diagram
Open system drawing in high quality

Instant winner

So what are John’s plans now that the first Earthling E40 has been successfully commissioned? “I aim to provide a limited production of two yachts a year. We won’t change anything as she’s a winner straight out of the box. The hulls could be extended to between 50 and 60 feet with the same ePropulsion solution, but 40 feet is a very user-friendly length and spacious too. “Earthling” based in Auckland and Brisbane will sell system integrations for other yacht builders where the hull form suits and complete E40 to E60 yachts worldwide by direct marketing.

“Our target markets are pleasure and light commercial up to 60 feet, both sectors contain environmentally concerned boaters and aquaculture and eco tourists who love to visit places like Australia’s crocodile and bird sanctuaries. The twin two-strokes typically used in such places are very intrusive for the environment and the Earthling is an ideal solution”

John McGettigan, WhisperPower Pacific

Back story: the Earthling E-40 system

The solution used for the Earthling E40 power catamaran comprises a OctoPower 7 system + generator, with two Piccolo GV 3 DC backup generators. The OctoPower 7 is a battery-based power system for 7 kW 230 VAC, 50 Hz power (14 kW max), ideal for the fast recharging of the lithium batteries. This modular design includes Super Inverter(s) and Super Chargers for 4.3 or 8.6 kW battery charging.

The battery pack is rechargeable from different sources, in this case WhisperSolar flex panels placed on the catamaran roof. These flexible and lightweight panels are a great solution for the Earthling E-40 as they’re waterproof, salt resistant and deliver 2 kW as tested.

WhisperPower has the best full-system ePropulsion solution for the huge recreational marine market and will be able to offer a large application sea trial with the Earthling E40, something rare but essential in this evolving market of early adopters. The E40 is available for demonstration in Auckland until April 2023, after which it will move to Brisbane.

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