Lignocellulosic materials are good and cheap precursors for the production of activated carbon. In this study, activated carbons were prepared from the pyrolysis of soybean oil cake at 600 and 800 C by chemical activation with K2CO3 and KOH. The influence of temperature and type of chemical reagents on the porosity development was investigated and discussed. K2CO3 was found more effective than KOH as a chemical reagent under identical conditions in terms of both porosity development and yields of the activated carbons. The maximum surface area (1352.86 ml g(-1)) was obtained at 800 degrees C with K2CO3 activation which lies in the range of commercial activated carbons. Elemental analyses of the activated carbons indicate insignificant sulphur content for all activated carbons. The ash and sulphur contents of the activated carbons obtained with chemical activation by K2CO3 were lower than those by chemical activation with KOH. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.