Catalytically grown carbon nanofibers have been prepared by the thermal decomposition of carbon containing gases over copper-nickel and iron surfaces. This material is found to be highly graphitic in nature when prepared from certain catalysts and gaseous reactants. In the as-grown state, carbon nanofibers have surface areas in the range 200 to 300 m2/g, and by following careful activation procedures this value can readily be increased to ˜700 m2/g. Electrical measurements indicate that the material has a conductivity approaching that of single crystal graphite. This material combines the attributes of active carbon and graphite and in addition, the physical form of carbon nanofibers offers some interesting opportunities for the design of unique catalyst systems.