This paper describes an improved method for producing a catalytic carbon, which was first produced in the late 1960s. The new activated carbon (AC) removes and destroys organic pollutants in aqueous solutions. To determine the effects of altering the pore structure and surface chemistry of activated carbons, carbons differing in the amount of functional groups on their surfaces were prepared in three steps: (1) oxidizing AC with boiling nitric acid, (2) washing oxidized AC with water to remove the acid, and (3) heating oxidized AC to temperatures beteween 100 and 925 ??C. The surfaces of the products were characterized by determining the amount of CO2 and CO evolved during temperature-programmed desorption. Depending on the desorption temperature, these modified carbons showed enhanced adsorptive and/or catalytic properties that included (1) carbon molecular sieves for separating oxygen from nitrogen, (2) increased capacity for adsorbing sulfur dioxide, (3) stronger adsorption of p-nitrophenol from water, and (4) catalysis of dehydrochlorination reactions. A dehydrohalogenation catalyst produced by the oxidation/ desorption steps was found to be similar to one prepared in the 1960s by oxidizing AC with air at 500-700 ??C. The dehydrohalogenation catalyst produced by either the old method or the new method involves an oxidized surface that has been exposed to a 500-700 ??C temperature range. This carbon catalyst retains modified adsorptive properties of the AC from which it is produced. It can be used both to adsorb pollutants from liquid or gaseous streams and to convert them to recyclable products.