Maybe there's something to this natural gas thing after all. Companies like Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK), ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), and ATP Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: ATPG) continue to expand natural gas production in the U.S., and we continue to find new ways to use that gas.

Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE) is attempting to turn a fuel that has traditionally been used to heat our homes and power our electricity into a fuel we'll fill our cars with. And the third quarter appears to be a major step in that direction.

Revenue for Clean Energy Fuels jumped 58% to $72.1 million as gasoline gallon equivalents delivered rose to 40.9 million. This has yet to translate into a profit, with non-GAAP loss growing to $8 million, or $0.11 per share. But when growth is the focus, a loss isn't the end of the world.

The growth should continue at a rapid rate with a record number of station and vehicle projects under way. Being developed are 92 truck stop stations to build a natural gas highway for trucking companies looking to make the switch to liquefied natural gas. It's this build-out that will take Clean Energy Fuels from a company that operates bus contracts into one that helps drive a natural gas fueling revolution.

All about dollars and cents
With natural gas production becoming less expensive from shale sources and oil prices rising, the future for natural gas fuel remains strong. Clean Energy Fuels has a long ways to go before its expansion is complete, but when it is, truck operators will have a viable fuel alternative to traditional diesel.

It will take more than fueling stations to make the transition, but major industry players like Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT) and Cummins (NYSE: CMI) are working together to make the natural gas engine a more widespread reality. As natural gas trucks, fueling stations, and lower-cost natural gas production come together, I see a bright future for Clean Energy Fuels. Sustained profit may be a ways away, but once the infrastructure is built, each new truck will add incremental profit and leverage the work the company is doing today.

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