Active materials of the invention contain at least one alkali metal and at least one other metal capable of being oxidized to a higher oxidation state. Preferred other metals are accordingly selected from the group consisting of transition metals (defined as Groups 4 11 of the periodic table), as well as certain other non-transition metals such as tin, bismuth, and lead. The active materials may be synthesized in single step reactions or in multi-step reactions. In at least one of the steps of the synthesis reaction, reducing carbon is used as a starting material. In one aspect, the reducing carbon is provided by elemental carbon, preferably in particulate form such as graphites, amorphous carbon, carbon blacks and the like. In another aspect, reducing carbon may also be provided by an organic precursor material, or by a mixture of elemental carbon and organic precursor material.


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