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Robert Henry "Bob" Abplanalp, KHS (April 4, 1922 – August 30, 2003) was an American inventor and engineer who invented the modern form of the aerosol valve, the founder of Precision Valve Corporation and a political activist.
Born to Swiss immigrant parents in the Bronx, New York, Abplanalp graduated from Fordham Preparatory School in 1939 (he rescued the school from financial distress in 1978) and studied mechanical engineering at Villanova University. He ran a small machine shop prior to entering the United States Army in 1943. After serving in World War II he worked in his machine shop where he invented a practical aerosol valve that could be mass-produced inexpensively. He began the Precision Valve Corporation in 1949, and, by 1950, 15,000,000 valves had been produced, marking the beginning of his business empire.
Response to ozone depletion
In 1974 Frank Sherwood Rowland, Chemistry Professor at the University of California at Irvine, and his postdoctoral associate Mario J. Molina suggested that long-lived organic halogen compounds, such as the CFCs then widely used to pressurize spray cans, would reach the stratosphere where they would be dissociated by UV light, releasing chlorine atoms. Abplanalp wrote to the Chancellor of UC Irvine to complain about Rowland's public statements. In 1976 the United States National Academy of Sciences released a report concluding that the ozone depletion hypothesis was strongly supported by the scientific evidence; the United States, Canada and Norway banned the use of CFCs in aerosol spray cans in 1978.
In 1956, he married Josephine Sloboda. The couple had two children. Later in life he became a Republican and supported many conservative causes. Abplanalp was a close friend and supporter of former US President Richard M. Nixon, Nixon's immediate family, and Nixon's long-time confidant, Charles "Bebe" Rebozo.
Mr. Abplanalp owned the lease to Walker's Cay for many years. He supported sports fishing as well as conservation. On at least one occasion he took his Grumman seaplane to the island.
Abplanalp and his wife were generous donors to Catholic charities, in recognition of which they were inducted in 1971 into two charitable orders — the Order of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
At the time of Abplanalp's death in Bronxville, New York from lung cancer on August 30, 2003, age 81, he held more than 300 aerosol-related patents. He is interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.
- Mark Kwak. "A Brief History of Innovation". http://www.inc.com/magazine/20021001/24702.html. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- New York Times, "Robert Abplanalp, 81, Inventor and Nixon Confidant, Dies" by Linda Greenhouse, Final, Section C, p. 11, column 1
- U.S. Patent 2,631,814 — Valve Mechanism for Dispensing Gases and Liquids Under Pressure; application September 28, 1949, issued March 17, 1953
- Roan, Sharon (1989) Ozone crisis: The 15-year evolution of a sudden global emergency, New York: Wiley, p. 56 ISBN 0-471-52823-4
- Robert Abplanalp at Find a Grave