A facile three-phase transport process is described that allows to carry out catalytic reactions in water, whereby all components are hydrophobic. According to this process a hydrophobic substrate is microemulsified in water and subjected to an organometallic catalyst, which is entrapped within a partially hydrophobized sol-gel matrix. The surfactant molecules, which carry the hydrophobic substrate, adsorb/desorb reversibly on the surface of the sol-gel matrix breaking the micellar structure, spilling their substrate load into the porous medium that contains the catalyst. A catalytic reaction then takes place within the ceramic material to form the desired products that are extracted by the desorbing surfactant, carrying the emulsified product back into the solution. The method is general and versatile and has been demonstrated with the catalytic hydrogenations of alkenes, alkynes, aromatic C= C bonds, and nitro and cyano groups.