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Born Apr. 15, 1730, in Pomarolo, near Rovereto; died Jan. 11, 1805, in Florence. Italian chemist and naturalist.
Fontana was a professor at the university in Pisa and curator of the natural history museum in Florence. In 1774 he determined the oxygen content of air. In 1777 he discovered, at the same time as K. Scheele, the ability of freshly heated charcoal to absorb gases. In 1782 he observed the formation of a combustible gas (a mixture of H2 and CO) when steam was passed over glowing coals.